7 Types of Reasoning
John Spacey, October 23, 2015 updated on April 30, 2018
Reasoning is the process of thinking about things in a logical, rational way. It is considered an innate human ability that has been formalized by fields such as logic, mathematics and artificial intelligence.The process of reasoning is used to make decisions, solve problems and evaluate things. It can be formal or informal, top-down or bottom-up and differs in terms of handling of uncertainty and partial truths.The following are a few major types of reasoning.
1. Deductive ReasoningDeductive reasoning is a formal method of top-down logic that seeks to find observations to prove a theory. It uses formal logic and produces logically certain results.
2. Inductive ReasoningInductive reasoning is bottom-up logic that seeks theories to explain observations. It is exploratory in nature and allows for uncertain but likely results.
3. Abductive ReasoningLike induction, abductive reasoning seeks theories to explain observations. It is less rigorous and allows for best guesses. Abductive reasoning is typically used in the context of uncertainty. It is associated with decision making and troubleshooting.
4. Backward InductionBackward induction is a top-down approach that starts with theories or end-states and works backwards to explain them. It allows for uncertainty and is commonly used in artificial intelligence. For example, it's a classic way for a computer to play chess by considering game end-states and working backwards to evaluate moves.
5. Critical ThinkingCritical thinking is a process of rational thought that seeks to draw conclusions in an objective, thorough and informed manner. It's a product of human thought and is influenced by factors such as culture and language. Human thought is based on natural language that allows for a great range of ideas to be contemplated. For example, humans can easily process partial truths, commonly known as grey areas, that tend to be a challenge in the field of logic. Critical thinking can also examine complexities such as emotion. For example, critical thinking can be used to critique a film or book.
6. Counterfactual ThinkingCounterfactual thinking is considering things that are known to be impossible. The most common example of this is evaluating past decisions that were once possible but are now impossible as their time horizon has passed. Considering how past decisions might have worked out is a common human thought process that may improve decision making abilities.
7. IntuitionIntuition are judgements that are made by the mind that are perceived by the unconscious. Such judgements exhibit intelligence but the processes by which they are generated aren't well understood. Although intuition is sometimes taken lightly, it has played a significant role in scientific discovery.
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