In the first few weeks of the Philosophy curriculum we have been discussing different methods of reasoning that we as a race have come to use. These methods of abductive, deductive, and inductive reasoning are employed by mankind to deduce opinions and conclusions in our day to day lives. I’ve found that analyzing these thought processes to be quite difficult. Grant it, some cases are simpler than others given the infinite amount of scenarios. However, despite the degree of complexity I believe you can almost always second guess the conclusions you make based on a recurring outcome.
At the present time my basic understanding of the abductive method is simply formulating an idea based on previously accepted knowledge of events. For instance, I am an automobile enthusiast, and as such I enjoy the mechanical/electrical components of cars. I can repair a vehicle with an elusive problem by performing diagnostic work. Such work starts by attacking a problem with what you already know given the symptoms. For example, if my car is continually getting less and less miles per gallon my existing knowledge tells me something probably isn’t right with the fuel system. This may not be the cause of the problem, but my prior experiences first point me in the direction of a malfunctioning injector, a weak spark etc. There’s no guarantee, but it’s a launch pad to solving the problem, and since its based on previous success its a viable course of action.
The deductive and inductive methods of reasoning intertwine with one another due to their reversal of logic. Deductive reasoning is the way in which a generalized piece of factual information is used to draw a more specific conclusion. Naturally such reasoning is only valid if the preliminary information is indeed factual. For example, I know that wood is derived from trees. If the tool I’m using is comprised of wood I know that at one time it was part of a tree.