A master of deductive reasoning, Sherlock Holmes is the most famous detective in the history of literature. His ability to solve baffling crimes on scant evidence drawn from minute details was well documented in the 56 short stories and 4 novels in which he appeared. Assisted by his loyal friend, Dr. John Watson, Holmes relies on his incredible powers of observation and broad knowledge of science and investigative techniques to solve dozens of perplexing mysteries. But more than anything else, the character depends on deduction and logical reasoning.
Any casual fan of the series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will recognize Holmes's most famous line: "Elementary, my dear Watson." Spoken to his trusted confidant, the master detective conveys the simple idea that most things are, well, simple. Although few possess his keen mind or fictional acumen, deduction is a type of reasoning most of us use each and every day.
What is it?
Let's say we wake up in the morning and our front lawn is drenched. What logical conclusion are we to draw from the sudden infusion of H20? Perhaps a nearby water tower sprung a leak or a water truck passed by and soaked the lawn? Of course, those are not the most logical explanations for the situation. The most logical explanation is that it rained. And that is just one example of how most of use deduction on a daily basis.
When utilized in an academic setting, deduction is used to access the knowledge level of students in many different areas of study. A deductive essay is one that requires a writer to draw his own conclusions based on a set of clues or circumstances, also known as premises. The purpose is not to answer the question or solve the problem with one hundred percent certainty, but rather to reach a reasonable assumption.
Unlike most other kinds of formal essays, the deductive version does not exist within a hermetically sealed bubble. Rather, it draws from outside sources and not simply on facts and evidence that relates to the subject. The author will be asked and expected to weigh individual factors against current information and knowledge. Only then will he be able to come to a reasonable conclusion.
As Sherlock Holmes implied, deductive reasoning is elementary. The process includes three parts: the premise, the evidence, and the conclusion. The premise is the basic fact that will be used to reach a reasonable assumption. The evidence is the information you have on hand and which cannot be called into question. The conclusion is your analysis of the situation, which must be based on the previous two parts.
The following is a basic example of deductive reasoning:
- premise: all humans are mammals
- evidence: Joseph is a human
- conclusion: Joseph is an mammal.
While simple and lacking in sophistication, this exercise is accurate and correct.
How to write a deductive essay?
Although not as common as traditional research papers, students in any of the following fields may be asked to write a deductive essay - the sciences, medicine, the law, investigative reporting, police work, and even literary analysis. Most students cringe when they are assigned these papers, since there really is no right answer. As we mentioned, deductive reasoning only puts us on the most reasonable path. It is far from foolproof!
A well-thought-out deductive essay is focused and clear. Each paragraph should center on a specific point or aspect of the argument, using precise details and examples that will lead the reader (and the writer) to a logical conclusion. The most important factor to keep in mind is the strength of the conclusion, which is based almost entirely on support for one's point. In other words, if the support is tenuous or scant, the conclusion will be as well.
5 popular topics ideas to choose from
Traditional vs. Online Education
Because educators want to see both sides of the argument, many of the topics for deductive essays include comparison. With college costs on the rise, cheaper and more convenient online educational programs have become ever more attractive. But do they deprive the student of individual attention and will he miss out on college friendships that might last a lifetime? These are just two of the questions writers might consider when tackling this topic.
While politicians bully and bluster about this timely issue, most Americans are on the fence about undocumented workers and their effect on the economy and culture of the United States. Writers who select this topic should be prepared to do a lot of research. The subject is a broad and contentious one and there is a lot of evidence and numbers to support either side of the argument.
Democracy vs. Communism
Although the Soviet Union collapsed more than two decades ago, Communism is still alive and well in Asia. But is it a better political system than democracy? You might want to consider the impact each system has had on the social, cultural, and economic lives of the people who live under them.
Is cloning morally acceptable?
Once again, the writer must choose a side and present evidence as to why his argument is the correct one. For example, if he maintains that cloning will have a negative impact on the overall society, he must present more than his opinion. He must provide real evidence that cloning will alter the human experience in an unhealthy or detrimental way.
Should the U.S. Government be permitted to police the Internet?
There's a reason why the internet was originally known as the World Wide Web, i.e., it is a global communication system. But governments in countries around the world, including America, are now starting to crack down and block or ban sites that they believe contain offensive or inappropriate content. Should they be allowed to do so? According to government officials, yes! According to most online users, no! For this essay, the writer must take a position and provide clear evidence that he is on the right side of history.
Dr. Tamara Fudge, Kaplan University professor in the School of Business and IT
There are several ways to present information when writing, including those that employ inductive and deductivereasoning. The difference can be stated simply:
- Inductive reasoning presents facts and then wraps them up with a conclusion.
- Deductive reasoning presents a thesis statement and then provides supportive facts or examples.
Which should the writer use? It depends on content, the intended audience, and your overall purpose.
If you want your audience to discover new thingswith you, then inductive writing might make sense. Here is n example:
My dog Max wants to chase every non-human living creature he sees, whether it is the cats in the house or rabbits and squirrels in the backyard. Sources indicate that this is a behavior typical of Jack Russell terriers. While Max is a mixed breed dog, he is approximately the same size and has many of the typical markings of a Jack Russell. From these facts along with his behaviors, we surmise that Max is indeed at least part Jack Russell terrier.
Within that short paragraph, you learned about Max’s manners and a little about what he might look like, and then the concluding sentence connected these ideas together. This kind of writing often keeps the reader’s attention, as he or she must read all the pieces of the puzzle before they are connected.
Purposes for this kind of writing include creative writing and perhaps some persuasive essays, although much academic work is done in deductive form.
If your audience is not likely going to read the entire written piece, then deductive reasoning might make more sense, as the reader can look for what he or she wants by quickly scanning first sentences of each paragraph. Here is an example:
My backyard is in dire need of cleaning and new landscaping. The Kentucky bluegrass that was planted there five years ago has been all but replaced by Creeping Charlie, a particularly invasive weed. The stone steps leading to the house are in some disrepair, and there are some slats missing from the fence. Perennials were planted three years ago, but the moles and rabbits destroyed many of the bulbs, so we no longer have flowers in the spring.
The reader knows from the very first sentence that the backyard is a mess! This paragraph could have ended with a clarifying conclusion sentence; while it might be considered redundant to do so, the scientific community tends to work through deductive reasoning by providing (1) a premise or argument – which could also be called a thesis statement, (2) then evidence to support the premise, and (3) finally the conclusion.
Purposes for this kind of writing include business letters and project documents, where the client is more likely to skim the work for generalities or to hunt for only the parts that are important to him or her. Again, scientific writing tends to follow this format as well, and research papers greatly benefit from deductive writing.
Whether one method or another is chosen, there are some other important considerations. First, it is important that the facts/evidence be true. Perform research carefully and from appropriate sources; make sure ideas are cited properly. You might need to avoid absolute words such as “always,” “never,” and “only,” because they exclude any anomalies. Try not to write questions: the writer’s job is to provide answers instead. Lastly, avoid quotes in thesis statements or conclusions, because they are not your own words – and thus undermine your authority as the paper writer.
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