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Deductive Essay

Definition:

"A deductive essay is essentially an exercise in reason and is often used to assess or evaluate students’ knowledge."

Typically, the deductive essay is based on the premise that given a certain set of fact, by using deductive reasoning assumption can be made leading to a conclusion. Thus, the three stages of a deductive essay would be: the premise, the evidence and the conclusion.

The premise is the basic fact or belief, the evidence is the information you have and the conclusion is the inference you draw from this. For example:

  • Premise – vegetarians do not eat meat
  • Evidence – Jane does not eat meat
  • Conclusion – Jane is a vegetarian.

(Clearly, this is far more simplistic than most deductive exercises.)

A deductive essay is an example of the academic usage of an everyday exercise. Most of us use the skills needed for the completion of a deductive essay quite often, making decisions based on what we know and therefore judging what to do based on our assumptions or inferences. In other words, deductive reasoning is actually little more than making assessments of a given situation based on knowledge you have – it is frequently used in detective stories, for example, and by detectives in real life, for that matter. The main thing to remember is that the conclusion should normally be based on the most probable inference. For example, you would not assume that aliens had landed because you heard strange noises; you would investigate further before making your assumption – hopefully!

A good deductive essay should show evidence of clear thinking and this should be reflected in the essay’s structure. Each paragraph should make a different point, always remembering to focus on the primary premise and be well supported by evidence. The conclusion need only be a brief statement of what the evidentiary inferences have led the writer to infer.


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