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Deductive, Inductive and Hypothetico-deductive methods

    As I mentioned in my previous post scientific method is always empirical. Empiricism refers to the information acquired by experience (using our senses) or experimentation (using instruments). Science cannot answer any questions that are not empirical. There are three methods of scientific enquiry namely inductive method, deductive method and hypothetico-deductive method


    1) Deductive reasoning (general to specific):
    This method of reasoning was developed by Aristotle. It uses general principles to predict specific results. Deductive reasoning starts from a general principle or theory, and then collects data, finally analyse and interpret. So this type of reasoning is also called as theory-data collection-analysis method. Deductive method is more widely used and considered more efficient than inductive method.  

    Some example will make things clear.
    Example 1: 
    All living organisms are made up of cells (a generalisation)
    Elephant is an a living organism (minor premise)
    Therefore elephant is made up of cells (conclusion).

    Example 2:
    Metals conduct electricity
    Silver is a metal
    Therefore, silver conducts electricity.

    Constructive method: is a form of deductive reasoning that uses deductive method for construction of scientific theories in mathematics, statistics and logic. Not much application in other sciences.

    2) Inductive reasoning (specific to general):
     This method was practised by Francis Bacon. Here specific observations are used to construct general scientific principles, just the reverse of deductive method. Inductive reasoning begins with specific observations and then analysis of data leading to the formulation of a general principle. So this type of reasoning is also called as data collection-analysis method. Specific observations that are uniform in result lead to generalisation.

    Example:  Rose plant is made up of cells
                       Mango tree is made up of cells
                        Jack fruit tree is made up of cells
                        Pinus is made up of cells
                       Therefore all plants are made up of cells.
    In inductive reasoning the correctness or authenticity of the generalised principle depends on the number of specific observation.  


    3) Hypothetico-deductive method: 
    This method was proposed by Dutch Physicist Christian Huygens (1629). Hypothetico-deductive method starts with hypothesis formulation from generalised principles or theory. This hypothesis is subjected to verification by deduction and comparison with available data. Then the hypothesis is further tested by series of step by step procedure finally leading to either adoption of rejection of formulated hypothesis. This is similar to the steps involved in a scientific method. The hypothesis will be analysed till the end before it is accepted or rejected. 

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