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1. any process of reasoning from premises to a conclusion
2. Logic the specific mode of reasoning used



the mental activity that makes a connection between disparate thoughts, linking them in a set of premises and conclusions. It is by inference that the norms and categories of such connections, which are inherently present in the social or individual consciousness, are expressed on the level of “inner speech.” Indeed, these norms and categories themselves—in any given instance—constitute the psychological basis of inference; when they coincide with the rules and laws of logic, the inference is judged by its result to be equivalent to logical deduction, although generally speaking there is a qualitative difference between logical deduction and inference.

Logical deduction, as distinct from inference, rests on “external means”; it operates through the verbal (symbolic) recording of thoughts or through their formalization—that is, the codification of thoughts and representation of their connections by one or another formal language or system, such as calculus—with the goal of reducing to a minimum the subconscious, enthymematic, and elliptical elements of deduction and translating abstract or “convoluted” thought processes into the language of “images.” Furthermore, the “legitimacy” of inference need not necessarily be determined by logical norms. For example, an incomplete induction is precisely an inference and not a logical deduction, inasmuch as the connection between premises and conclusions in induction has a factual and psychological basis (as expressed in the well-known norms of generalization) but lacks a logical basis—that is, lacks those formal rules by which thinking proceeds from the particular to the general.

A further distinction is drawn between inference and reasoning: the latter is always a consciously willed mental activity, while an inference, in principle at least, can be both involuntary and an act of the subconscious.



The logical process by which new facts are derived from known facts by the application of inference rules.

See also symbolic inference, type inference.
References in classic literature ?
There is no reason--so Watson argues--to suppose that their knowledge IS anything beyond the habits shown in this behaviour: the inference that other people have something nonphysical called "mind" or "thought" is therefore unwarranted.
A state of the law which allows the interchange of matrimonial consent to be proved by inference leaves a wide door open to conjecture.
To put this awareness into practice, we need to revisit the structural differential in order to distinguish direct observations ("D" level descriptions) from inferences ("I" level assumptions).
Designed to be used with professional study groups such as professional learning communities, this resource presents four ready-to-use, evidence-based classroom strategies for teaching late-elementary and middle grade students the skills they need for drawing inferences, examining evidence, understanding main ideas that are not explicitly stated, and using problem-solving approaches that require inference.
During the next class, we used SPSS to analyze the data, interpreted related concepts, and evaluated assumptions before interpreting statistics and making inferences.
However, the court further stated that a magistrate may make the usual inferences that reasonable persons would draw from the facts presented.
Stone to establish the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1831, Alexander Campbell began to use necessary inferences from Scripture as a way of adjudicating the kind of questions that a Bible-only movement was fated to confront: For example, how should elders be ordained?
His inferences are not supported by actual research as to what an individual plaintiff or defendant is saying in pleadings or testimony, or even in diary or other types of evidence that let these people speak.
This assumption that disposition and situation operate independently leads many theorists to argue further that the most noticeable actions of other people often generate inferences about their enduring psychological traits.
Because the acts constituting the bad faith are usually secret, the broker often has no direct proof to support such a claim and must rely on inferences.
Backward chaining One of the several control strategies that regulate the order in which inferences are drawn.