In order to apply inductive or deductive reasoning, one has to set aside ones personal affectations or prejudices; otherwise the achieved results may be easily questioned. Additionally, the process of argumentation has certain standards, which should be met. For instance, we may take such statement as, “illegal immigrant are the cause of violent crime”. Certainly, this statement can neither be fully substantiated nor refuted. Our task is to show how such rather controversial argument can be discussed in terms of inductive reasoning.
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Analysis of the argument
There are two ways to test the validity of this argument; first, we may analyze it from numerical perspective, it is necessary to find out whether there is sufficient number of instances, which suggest that illegal immigrants are the cause of crime wave in the United States. Secondly, we should discuss this issue from qualitative standpoint, particularly; we have to answer the question if these instances are typical or non-typical of the group. According to the principles of inductive reasoning every statement has to be put to these tests, otherwise, we cannot even regard it as an syllogism.
First, we should speak about the evidence, giving rise to this belief. Every person, who puts forward such hypothesis, has to draw some examples. Overall, it is quite possible for us to say that illegal contributed to the crime wave in the country. According to the data, published by the Department of Justice, approximately 8 percent of violent crimes are committed by people, who do not have official registration (Department of Justice, 11). At first glance, it may seem that this information completely proves this theory. Nonetheless, we need to ask ourselves whether this statistical data fully reflect the situation in the country. First, it should be taken into consideration that that there are about twenty million illegal immigrants in the United States and in the overwhelming majority of cases they are struggling their way against bureaucratic machinery, yet it does not necessarily mean that all of them resort to violent crimes. In fact, according to official data only eight percent of these people have ever committed any violent act against the citizens of the United States (Department of Justice, 14). Thus, we may say that the people, who advance such hypothesis about illegal immigrants, make hasty generalizations. It is hardly possible to call this statement an argument is based on neither quantitative nor qualitative data. As it has been mentioned before, only three percent of illegal immigrants have committed violent crimes.
Additionally, we should speak about qualitative aspect of this problem. Certainly, illegal immigrants have to fight against insuperable odds, and some of them may resort to crime. The question arises, whether is permissible to call every person, who does not have official registration or green card a criminal. In this case, we may speak about the use of non- typical instances, which may lead us to faulty inductions. Some immigrants were forced to leave their own country but they have effectively contributed to the development of the United States. They must not be considered as a gang of criminals. Thus, having discussed this argument from numerical and quantitative standpoints we may say that this statement is not evidence-based, it even can be termed as a stereotype, or false association.
An example of inductive reasoning
The case, which we have discussed, is an example of the so-called “false induction”, however, it does not mean that such form of reasoning is ineffective. First, it should be pointed out that every syllogism is based on hypothesis, and it is hardly possible for a person to be absolutely certain. It is possible to draw several examples, which can be classified as strong syllogisms. For instance, every crow (or raven), which has ever been observed by ornithologists is black, thus one may suppose that every bird belonging to this species is black. This statement can be substantiated by both quantitative and qualitative tests. However, we cannot say with absolute certainty that there is no such thing as the white crow. Even in this case, we may speak only about the probability but not certainty. Unfortunately, very often people tend to think that inductive reasoning is always infallible. It seems such philosophy can make a person very limited and narrow-minded.
Therefore, it is quite possible for us to arrive at the conclusion that under certain conditions, that the reasoning from few to the many or from part to the whole is not always reliable. We must not associate one or several representatives with the group. Such form of reasoning will inevitably lead us to a deadlock, which is almost impossible to break. In fact, from psychological point of view, much misconception is often called “false association”, which means that people are often inclined to jump to the conclusions just because they fail to see the relations between the system and its subsystems. The belief that a constituent part is similar to the unity, is erroneous its core.
The Department of Justice “Violent Crime Since 2004”. Bureau of Statistics , 2007.
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