摘要: Software engineer and philosopher William J. Littlefield II pointed out in a recent essay that there are three types of reasoning. Two of them, we probably all learned in school: deductive and inductive reasoning. Computers can do both of these quite well.

 


Software engineer and philosopher William J. Littlefield II pointed out in a recent essay that there are three types of reasoning. Two of them, we probably all learned in school: deductive and inductive reasoning. Computers can do both of these quite well.

Deductive reasoning: Dogs are canines. Tuffy is a dog. Therefore Tuffy is a canine.

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Inductive reasoning is, by contrast, “bottom-up” reasoning, from a series of relevant facts to a conclusion, for example: The club has held 60 swim meets, 20 in each venue below: When the Club holds swim meets at Sandy Point, we get 80% approval on average. When the Club holds swim meets at Stony Point, we get 60% approval on average. When the Club holds swim meets at Rocky Point, we get 40% approval on average. Conclusion: Club members prefer sandy beaches to other kinds.

 

But, according to Littlefield, the third type of reasoning, abductive reasoning, works a bit differently:

Unlike induction or deduction, where we start with cases to make conclusions about a rule, or vice versa, with abduction, we generate a hypothesis to explain the relationship between a case and a rule. More concisely, in abductive reasoning, we make an educated guess.

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