Encyclopedia Entry

Induction

Nick J. Fox

In scientific research, induction is a form of reasoning used in pursuit of understanding and knowledge, establishing a relationship between observations and theory. Science applies inductive reasoning to establish theories, the purpose of which is to remove the need for continual observation so as to make statements about reality, using past experience to generalize with reasonable levels of certainty about the future. Research approaches that generalize from a particularity (typically a set of observations of some sort) to a broad statement, such as a theory or general proposition concerning a topic, apply inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning in science is sometimes contrasted with deduction or, more properly, the hypothetico-deductive method, where sense is made of data by locating them within a general or theoretical context. However, induction and deduction may be better considered as complementary components of scientific reasoning. It has been suggested that induction is of particular importance in qualitative ...

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