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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 ?
Haney (1992) proposed that even if we cannot completely avoid making inferences, we can become more alert to the risks that we are taking.
To detect our inferences, we need to ask ourselves three important questions:
To give students an opportunity to make inferences, many of the current questions asked in statistics lessons could be easily amended by adding an additional question about an unknown context.
These results suggest that high working memory capacity readers make predictive inferences earlier than low working memory capacity readers.
For Brandom, material inferences that contain such references are of the following kind: "Only opening my umbrella will keep me dry, so I shall open my umbrella", or, "It is raining.
Notwithstanding the new standard offered by Rule 37(e), courts still use culpability-based tests when contemplating adverse inference instructions for failure to maintain electronic files.
Therefore, this study aims to investigate whether or not there is any difference between the fourth-grade primary school students' construction of backward inferences in terms of their sex.
The jury (of fact finders more generally) should only draw reasonable inferences.
In our article about magnitude-based inferences, Batterham and I did not distinguish between inferences about the clinical or practical vs the mechanistic importance of an effect.
What inferences or presumptions are allowable where physical evidence is missing or otherwise not produced?
We finished our activity by considering a follow-up research question, offered our advice to the coaches, and talked about the limitations of our inferences.
17) This jury instruction is commonly referred to as a "spoliation inference.