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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 ?
Significant differences among the groups were also observed in both expository texts, when literal questions were added, as when added inferential questions.
My thesis is that inferential models using sample statistics are not necessary for typical appraisal work.
In terms of Brandom's institutional inferential pattern, the critical questions for the Argument from verbal Classification would be:
The next section focuses on the programing of an investigative repertoire to answer inferential comprehension questions.
Another misconception uncovered among graduate students is on the logic behind inferential reasoning.
The number of verbs which can form the inferential future is quite restricted.
For all that Lee's depiction does in clarifying the nature of abstraction, it unfortunately seems to suggest that inferential aspects should or ought enter with speech and description.
In other words, we propose that the order of presentation of inferential statistical procedures be changed from the current practice.
Measures directly, not an inferential device, for more consistent results
After all, it's not as if you could reach out and touch someone else's mind; you are always making an inferential leap.
In that regard, it may be helpful to distinguish between descriptive and inferential statistics.