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Critical Thinking & COVID-19: Generalization

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It is reasonable to wonder how the experts are coming up with the numbers of cases of COVID and calculating its lethality. Some might be concerned about or even skeptical because the numbers often change and they vary across countries, age groups, ethnicities and economic classes. This essay provides a basic overview of a core method of making inferences from samples to entire populations—this is what philosophers call the inductive generalization. An inductive generalization is an inductive argument. In philosophy, an argument consists of premises and one conclusion. The premises are the reasons or evidence being offered to support the conclusion, which is the claim being argued for.  Philosophers generally divide arguments into inductive and deductive. In philosophy a deductive argument is such that the premises provide (or are supposed to provide) complete support for the conclusion. An inductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or are supposed to provide) some degree of support (but less than complete support) for the conclusion.  If the premises of an inductive argument support the conclusion adequately (or better) it is a strong argument. It is such that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely to be true. If a strong inductive argument has all true premises, it is sometimes referred to as being cogent. One feature of inductive logic is that a strong inductive argument can have a false conclusion even when all the premises are true. This is because of what is known as the inductive leap: the conclusion always goes beyond the premises. This can also be put in terms of drawing a conclusion from what has been observed to what has not been observed. Our good dead friend David Hume argued back in the 1700s that this meant we could never be sure about inductive reasoning and later philosophers called this the problem of induction. In practical terms, this means that even if we engage in perfect inductive reasoning using premises. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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