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In this lesson, learn about the different ways you can draw conclusions. Learn how each one applies in the criminal justice environment and then experience scenarios that include the different ways to draw a conclusion.

Using Your Mind to Solve a Crime

You are a jury member in a controversial trial. Your job is to draw a conclusion based on the two arguments, provided by the defense and prosecution. In order to do this, you must use your reasoning skills to determine a conclusion. The case does not provide a substantial amount of evidence, so it is up to you to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not.

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What kind of reasoning would occur in this scenario, if the evidence is not substantial? Let’s find out!

Deductive Reasoning

Lets start out with deductive reasoning. This type of reasoning is based on already proven logic. What this means, is that if something has been proven as true, then any conclusions drawn from it, will also be true. Lets think about the case you are sitting in on as a jury member. You understand that there is evidence showing that the crime committed, was committed by the defendant.

However, the evidence are mainly based on eyewitness testimonies, where they think the person they saw was the defendant. A lot of character assessments of the defendant was provided, but the only hard evidence was a hoodie with the defendant’s DNA on it, that was found in the dumpster near the scene of the crime.Based on this, can you draw a conclusion, on the arguments provided by the defense and prosecution, using deductive reasoning? Lets learn about the other ways to draw conclusions, before giving an answer.

Inductive Reasoning

Now we are at inductive reasoning. This type of reasoning reaches a conclusion that is not based on logic.

It is based on a general argument, rather than a specific one, like deductive reasoning. This means that while the evidence within the argument seems to be complete and relevant, it can’t be known for sure if it is true or false unless actual observation occurs.So for the example, where you are in the jury, you determine, that yes, a crime was committed, and yes, the defendant had been in the area of the crime. The evidence provided does not seem to be substantial enough because no one know how or when the hoodie was placed in trash, you also know that the defendant lives in the area and that at night time, no one can make a 100 percent accurate description of the man running from the crime.Can you make a reasonable conclusion using this type of reasoning, based on the arguments provided by prosecution and defense? One more reasoning process to cover, before you can make a logical decision.

Abductive Reasoning

With abductive reasoning, it is taking incomplete information or observations from an argument and deciding what the best solution would be. Basically, drawing the best possible solution, based on the information that is provided.

So, as you are sitting listening to the closing arguments of the trial, you realize, that even though you know some evidence wasn’t allowed to be heard in trial, you can still draw a conclusion based on the evidence that was provided.So would you be using abductive reasoning to draw your conclusion for or against the defendant?If you said yes, you are correct! As a juror, you are asked to make a verdict based on evidence that is gathered, but the story of what occurred, will never be complete because only the ones who committed the crime, who was a victim of the crime, and partially those who witnessed the crime, know the whole story. Jurors get biased views on what happened, but not always the complete picture, which means that you, as the juror, have to draw the best conclusion, based on what you know, not on what you don’t know.

So Why Weren’t the Other Options Correct?

With deductive reasoning, hard facts would need to be known and proven true about the case.

For example, if there was video evidence of the defendant committing the crime, you would be able to draw the conclusion, using deductive reasoning, that the defendant, in fact, committed the crime. It could be argued that the video was tampered with, but after hearing an expert state that the video was legitimate, your conclusion would be that the defendant was the one who was in the video.With inductive reasoning, the evidence wasn’t substantial enough for you to draw a conclusion based on inductive reasoning.

This may seem confusing, but think of it this way, if you had substantial evidence such as, knowing when the hoodie was placed in the trash, you could draw a better conclusion because you would know when the defendant was in that area. Even though this is great evidence, there is still reasonable doubt on its connection to the crime. You would be drawing a conclusion based on inductive reasoning because even though the evidence was substantial, more could be known, to make a better conclusion.Since the example, with you as the juror, did not have any additional evidence, such as when the hoodie was thrown away, or a video catching the defendant in the act, you had to draw the best conclusion you could, on the evidence provided. Making this a case of abductive reasoning.

Lesson Summary

Three forms of reasoning can be used in order to draw conclusions from an argument. Deductive reasoning is based on facts already proven, inductive reasoning is based on having enough evidence that is convincing, but not being able to conclude it is true or false, and abductive reasoning is based on not having enough evidence or assertions to make a logical conclusion, so it is based on what you determine is the conclusion with what information you are given. You can always draw conclusions from an argument, but depending on how convincing the argument, and how much information provided, will determine what your reasoning approach will be and how strong your conclusion can be.

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