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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 ?
However, because we did not personally observe the actions, nor verify the validity of the media claims, our conclusions about the athlete may merely be a misguided inference.
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of Hyderabad, India), but he looks instead at the statistical inference for stochastic processes, modeled by stochastic differential equations driven by fractional Brownian motion, which he calls fractional diffusion processes.
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In contrast, biological inference is concerned with an understanding of how patterns in genomics data actually translate into the details of gene transcription, protein creation, and metabolism.
Ward stated that an inference drawn from the detective's training and experience that drug traffickers often keep drug evidence in their homes would have been legally adequate, but the detective did not even do that.
The IRS does not use specific items to support an inference of unreported income from unidentified sources.
This account of attitudes toward Scripture in the first decades of the Restorationist movement highlights the evolution of Alexander Campbell's views from the opinion that "necessary inference" was an illegitimate way of extrapolating biblical authority to his acceptance of necessary inference as legitimate.
The report also said the committee intended no inference as to the application of the exclusion to punitive damages prior to the effective date of the bill in connection with a case involving a physical injury or physical sickness.
Thus, the statement "Nice to see you" gets categorized as a friendly overture, the speaker gets characterized as genuinely affable and this inference undergoes correction for the fact that the speaker works for the recipient, whose presence requires polite affability.