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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 periodicals archive ?
1996) found that Latino bilingual students who are strong readers of English developed unique strategies to infer and construct meaning in context even though they frequently encounter unknown words.
The students were then asked to guess the meanings of the words in question (assessing the students' ability to infer and explain the meanings of unknown words in context).
If illegal drugs are found in the dwelling, then it would be reasonable to infer that the sole occupant knowingly possessed those drugs.
If the drugs are hidden in a vehicle or in a package the recipient has not opened and the suspect does not admit he knew that the contraband was present, then the government must have sufficient circumstantial evidence from which to infer that the possessor knew the contraband was present.
If, on the other hand, a suspect is present with drug conspirators, but there is a plausible innocent explanation for his presence, then his mere presence would not be enough to infer that he is part of the conspiracy.
New theoretical studies reveal that this chirping signal has a form so complicated that researchers could use it to infer the masses, spins, and orbital paths of the two bodies producing the gravitational radiation.
Such a scheme lowers the probability that a user can infer the exact value of an individual's salary or some other attribute, the researchers say.