How to Write a Deductive Essay

A deductive essay is an academic composition which employs a particular kind of logical reasoning known as deduction. In this specific context, deduction does not simply mean subtle reasoning. Rather, it is the process of reasoning by using one or more proposition statements which lead to a logically certain conclusion - where the conclusion necessarily follows from the premisses. As such, it is distinct from inductive and abdominal of reasoning (where conclusions do not certainly follow from premisses). So, deductive reasoning is all about identifying a likely explanation for a phenomenon based on available evidence.

Deduction in Everyday Life

Deductive reasoning is one of the most efficient ways of connecting causes to their effects. Thus it can be used to explain a huge variety of phenomena. As a consequence, it is something we use every day in a variety of contexts without being consciously aware of doing so.

Let us consider a practical example of this. If you look out your window in the morning and you see that the roads are jammed up with immobile cars, all of which contain drivers, you could interpret this information in a variety of ways. You could perhaps oppose that all of these cars have simultaneously broken down in the same place at the same time; that there has been a freak mechanical incident. However, this does not seem to be a very plausible line of reasoning. It is far more likely that we are simply witnessing rush-hour in action – or in action as the case may be.

Think about this from a deductive perspective, in terms of premisses and conclusions. Here our core premisses would be that, firstly, the cars have drivers but are not moving, secondly, cars on the road containing drivers only do not move when there is traffic, thirdly, traffic is common during rush hour, and, fourthly, rush-hour occurs in the morning and the late afternoon. All of these premises lead to the logical conclusion that it must indeed be rush-hour and this is why the traffic is static. Consider that if all of the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true.

Formal Logic and Argumentation

The basic idea behind deductive essay, then, is that an observer, when presented with a specific set of circumstances (the premisses), can therefore arrive at a conclusion based upon the circumstances. Generally speaking, a deductive argument takes the form of an “if this, and this, therefore that” construction. As in: if all cats are orange and I have a cat, my cat must therefore be orange. Of course, in the previous example one of the premisses is false (all cats are not orange). Nevertheless the reasoning is sound because the conclusion follows necessarily from the premisses. The only issue, here, is that we have faulty information which corrupts the outcome. More on this in the article on Argumentation.

Deduction is one tool within the overall armoury of formal logic. It is extremely common within academic work, meaning you will necessarily have to master it.

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