|deduction (dĭ-dŭk'shən) Pronunciation Key
Our Living Language : The logical processes known as deduction and induction work in opposite ways. In deduction general principles are applied to specific instances. Thus, using a mathematical formula to figure the volume of air that can be contained in a gymnasium is applying deduction. Similarly, applying a law of physics to predict the outcome of an experiment is reasoning by deduction. By contrast, induction makes generalizations based on a number of specific instances. The observation of hundreds of examples in which a certain chemical kills plants might prompt the inductive conclusion that the chemical is toxic to all plants. Inductive generalizations are often revised as more examples are studied and more facts are known. If certain plants that have not been tested turn out to be unaffected by the chemical, the conclusion about the chemical's toxicity must be revised or restricted. In this way, an inductive generalization is much like a hypothesis.
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