What is the inductive method?

We explain what the inductive method is, and what are its characteristics. What inconveniences it presents and what are its steps.

  1. What is the inductive method?

The inductive method is a process used to draw general conclusions from particular facts . It is the most used scientific method.

Inductivism goes from the particular to the general. It is a method that is based on the observation , study and experimentation of various real events in order to reach a conclusion that involves all these cases. The accumulation of data that reaffirms our position is what makes the inductive method.

For example , someone says that all birds of the species “x” are of three different colors. What happens after observing 50 birds of the same species and realizing that they are all of the same color or, rather, that they have the same color combination, is that then it is in a position to state that all birds of That species are of those colors.

This statement will become a theory and will be valid until someone arrives who with the same method or with another can really prove the opposite or falsify is theory (falsificationism , method created by Kuhn, which states that a theory is falsifiable when it can be demonstrated that who made it is wrong). The Greek philosopher Aristotle was a pioneer in the use of inductivism and also of deductivism.

Francis Bacon , an English philosopher, was the one who began research of this kind and also proposed that this method be used in all sciences . In a way, he was the creator of this scientific method. Its ultimate goal was that knowledge be like a pyramid: that it had a broad base to rely on, a place that the cases that were observed would occupy, and from which knowledge would accumulate.

  1. What problems does the inductive method have?

The problem with this method is that, in the first place, it was said that the observation could never be the beginning of this method , because to observe the cases one had to know how to do it. In addition, we can count on our external or internal senses to deceive us (for example, the view may fail us) and thus cause us to reach an inadequate or incorrect conclusion.

On the other hand, the second problem lies in how to reach certain conclusions based on the observation, because it is impossible for this method to give us a copy of reality , rather it will offer us the copy of a small portion, a sample. The big problem with the inductive method is that it only works with probable cases.

To exemplify this problem : It turns out that a researcher wants to study the behavior of an animal in freedom, which a man has never seen. This researcher finds an individual from that population and takes note of everything he sees and feels, but let’s say that although he has knowledge, he is not an expert. After a while he draws his conclusion and leaves, without analyzing other individuals. What he saw is the result of a small portion of that population.

This scientific method is closely related to the deductive method , only that this is the other way around. It is intended to obtain particular conclusions through a theory that is universal. To put it better, it would be: “The conclusion has been implicit in the premises themselves.”

To exemplify this method : Juan and Pedro have four dogs. The first two are brown and the other is black, what color will the last dog be? The deductive thought would say that they should be two brown dogs and two black dogs, but in reality it should not be so, there is a possibility that it is of any other color.

Not everyone can follow this technique because it requires being very patient and very thorough. If the number of necessary cases is not observed, it will not take effect and if the data is not well thought out, we can reach a wrong conclusion.

  1. Steps of the inductive method

Inductive method
Secondly, the collected data is classified and studied.

In order to carry out a study through this method, it is necessary to follow these four steps that we will describe:

  • First, the observation and recording of events . In this first step we will tabulate every single event and from them it will be that we can move forward.
  • Second, we will classify and study all the data collected.
  • Third, from these data we will  elaborate a theory or a hypothesis with which we will explain that event that we are dedicated to study. Following, we must make an inductive derivation from the facts that were collected.
  • The last step is to conduct an experiment about what has been proposed in order to demonstrate our theory with facts.
  1. Deductive method

We talk about the deductive method to refer to a specific way of  thinking  or reasoning, which  draws logical and valid conclusions from a given set of premises or propositions . It is, in other words, a way of thinking that goes from the most general (such as laws and principles) to the most specific (concrete facts).

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