FocusStrategies used to derive or validate insights based on established insights
- Knowledge is … scope of possible interpretation
- Knowing is … considered thought and action
- Learner is … a thinker (individual)
- Learning is … reasoning
- Teaching is … challenging (to think)
OriginatedAncient (entrenched in the language)
SynopsisModes of Reasoning refers to a range of conscious processes used to derive or validate assertions based on established understandings. It is most commonly associated with logical deduction, but humans actually use a range of strategies to generate their truths, including the following:
- Abductive Reasoning (Abduction, Abductive Inference, Retroduction) is explanation oriented, and it is concerned with plausibility rather than certainty. It starts with observations and its process might be described in terms of seeking simple and likely explanations.
- Analogical Reasoning (Analogy) is an interpretation strategy that involves drawing (figurative) associations between a familiar phenomenon (the analog, source, or source domain) and a new phenomenon (the target or target domain). Specific types of Analogical Reasoning include analogies, metaphors, similes, allegories, parables, and exemplification. (See Conceptual Metaphor Theory.)
- Bounded Rationality, associated with Pragmatism, is about making good-enough (vs. optimal) decisions, taking into account such constraints as time pressures, problem complexity, resource availability, and cognitive limitations.
- Commonsense Reasoning – highlighted by research into Artificial Intelligence, Commonsense Reasoning spans the fluid, flexible, but hard-to-mimic abilities to derive meaning, infer intention, and anticipate possibilities within complex situations, based on lifetimes of experiences using cultural tools to make sense of the physical world with others
- Conditional Reasoning (If–Then Reasoning; Inferential Reasoning) – a mode of reasoning that moves from explicit premise to sensible inference (e.g., If my pen stops working, then it must be out of ink.)
- Deductive Reasoning (Deductive Logic, Logical Deduction, Top-Down Logic) is a formal process of moving from premises to a logically certain conclusion. Specific rules apply.
- Fuzzy Logic (Lotfi Zadeh, 1970s) – a version of logic in which membership in a set isn’t a matter of yes/no (i.e., 1 or 0), but of degrees – that is, a phenomenon can both belong to a set to some degree and not belong to some degree. While Fuzzy Logic departs from classic logic, it is in many ways a better model of human thinking — by, for example, allowing for more exemplary instances (e.g., robins are more bird-like than ostriches) and partial membership (e.g., bats are somewhat bird-like)
- Inductive Reasoning (Bottom-Up Logic) has to do more with expectation than certainty. It occurs when, based on a pattern of events or premises, one anticipates future events or implications.
- Moral Reasoning – any process by which one attempts to determine proper courses or action and/or to distinguish been “right” and “wrong,” typically by using some manner of Conditional Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning, or Analogical Reasoning.
- Pragmatic Reasoning Schema Theory (Patricia Cheng, Keith Holyak, 1980s) – a model of Conditional Reasoning (see above) that spells out implicit and situation-specific rules of inference that are rooted in experience – whereby situations triggers rules, which becomes bases for reasoning
CommentaryThe biggest issue with Modes of Reasoning is that they are notoriously difficult to study – since, to do so, they need to be applied to themselves. A simple fact that should give pause is it has only been recently that humanity has realized that what most defines our thinking capacities is not Deductive Reasoning (which is trivial with computers), but Analogical Reasoning (which is notoriously difficult to simulate). That development might be taken as an indication that there is still much to learn about how humans think.
Authors and/or Prominent InfluencesDiffuse
Status as a Theory of LearningModes of Reasoning are properly understood as theories of learning. Each is a mode of generating and/or confirming new understandings – which is an interpretation of “learning” that fits across most discourses.
Status as a Theory of TeachingModes of Reasoning do not constitute a theory of teaching.
Status as a Scientific TheoryModes of Reasoning are associated with extensive philosophical and empirical research.
- Abductive Reasoning
- Analogical Reasoning
- Bounded Rationality
- Commonsense Reasoning
- Conditional Reasoning (If–Then Reasoning; Inferential Reasoning)
- Deductive Reasoning
- Fuzzy Logic
- Inductive Reasoning
- Moral Reasoning
- Pragmatic Reasoning Schema Theory
- Probabilistic Thinking
Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Modes of Reasoning” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.
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