Inductive Generalization
  • uses specific examples to draw general conclusions. People use inductive generalizations to observe situational patterns which they project on new cases.

What pattern do you see in the following premises?

  • In the 1950s, one out of five households in North Bay had a television set.
  • In the 1970s, four out of five households in North Bay had a television set.
  • In the 1990s, there were 1.5 television sets for every household in North Bay.

Possible Conclusions:

  • The ratio of television sets to households has increased over time.
  • The ratio of television sets to households will increase in the future.
  • People in North Bay like watching television.
Inductive Generalization Example

When p occurs, the most observed is q

p occurred

q will probably occur

When I tidy my room, my parents are often happy.

I tidied my room this morning.

My parents will probably be happy

Statistical Induction
  • It is similar to inductive generalization since it moves from specific cases to draw a general conclusion. The specific cases, however, are based on statistical information. Predicts something will happen with numerical probability
Statistical Induction Example

A is the population

B is the population of careful eaters with heart disease.

Some percentage of all A’s will become B’s.

A has x% chance of being a B.

70% of careful eaters avoid heart disease.

Bill is a careful eater.

Bill has a 70% chance of avoiding heart disease.

Induction by


  • A hypothesis is suggested and certain observations must be made if the hypothesis is to be considered acceptable.
  • The hypothesis is tested by observing if evidence exists to support it.

  • Philosophers suggest theories about ethics, society and the universe, they then look for arguments and reasons to support or deny their hypotheses.
  • The legal system relies heavily on induction by confirmation. A police detective hypothesizes that a suspect has committed a crime. The detective looks for evidence to support or deny that hypothesis.
Hypothesis: Jim robbed the corner store.
Observations expected: Whoever robbed the store will have a motive, opportunity, and means.
Observations noted: Jim needed money, was in the area, and was found with a replica of a gun.
Conclusion: There is evidence supporting the hypothesis that Jim robbed the corner store.

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