ESSAY TYPES: MODES - Deductive Reasoning Essays

Deductive Essays

Lancea fractal courtesy of
Janet Preslar, FrActivity

Deductive essays are an important factor in evaluating the knowledge level of students in many courses. The ability to compose a well-constructed deductive essay sometimes may be the difference between a passing grade and failing grade. Knowing how to create a deductive essay will enable the student to show the instructor a full working knowledge of a subject.

Deductive reasoning is based on the concept that given as set of circumstances or clues (premises), one can draw a reasonable assumption as to the state of the situation. More simply, a person can solve a puzzle or identify a person if given enough information. Specifically, deductive reasoning takes individual factors, weighs them against the current knowledge about such things, and adds them up to come to a conclusion. There are three parts to deductive reasoning. The first is the PREMISE. A premise is a basic fact or belief that is used as the basis for drawing conclusions. There may be several PREMISES in an argument. The second part is called EVIDENCE. The evidence is the information you have before you, whether it is a story you are analyzing or something you have observed. The last part is the CONCLUSION. The conclusion is your final analysis of the situation, based on balancing PREMISES with EVIDENCE. A simplified example might be as follows:

  • premise: all dogs are animals
  • evidence: Fido is a dog
  • conclusion: Fido is an animal.
This is not a complex deductive exercise, but it is accurate.

We use deductive reasoning quite commonly in day-to-day life. For example, say you look out your window some morning and see the street is wet. There are several ways you could interpret this information. You might assume a large water truck has just driven by, inundating the area with spray. Possibly, you may decide that water has soaked up from the ground. Most likely, however, you will likely decide that it has rained. Why? Based on your life experience and likely factors, the most logical deduction is that a wet street is the result of rainfall. There are other possibilities, but the most logical deduction is rain. If, however, you were SURE that there had been no rain, or you were aware of a street cleaning program, your deduction would change appropriately. Deductive reasoning takes the MOST REASONABLE, LIKELY path, but is not necessarily fool-proof. Deductive reasoning is commonly used in police work, investigative reporting, the sciences (including medicine), law, and, oddly enough, literary analysis.

In developing a deductive essay, one must gather information that will support the conclusion that is drawn by the writer. That conclusion, or THESIS, is the focal point of the essay. This thesis is placed in the introduction of the essay. The body paragraphs of the essay are then the support for that thesis. For example, in this school's English 101, the student will be asked to demonstrate the knowledge of symbolism by the pointing out symbols and their meanings in a particular work. Usually the thesis will be something along the lines of "Edgar Allan Poe's 'Cask of Amontillado' uses symbolism to foreshadow the death of Fortunato." What then will follow are several paragraphs in which the author's use of symbolism to foretell the death of the antagonist will be explained. The strategy is to determine the meaning of the symbols in the story based on the knowledge of the definition of a symbol, and the common symbols used by writers and society in general. Some of the symbols may have more than one logical interpretation, and given the context of the story, will allow for more than one translation or interpretation of the story. Overall, there will be a similarity and commonality in the themes and meanings derived because the evidence, the story itself, dictates the scope of the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn. The deduction aspect is an intrinsic aspect of the Literature Analysis Paper, not a standalone work, as it is in ENGLISH 101S.

In English 101S, the deductive essay works a bit differently. The paragraphs within a body of that essay are deductive in the sense that the student writer is putting together clues, evidence, that led to the conclusion as to what led Documentary Research Paper. Essentially, you are sharing with me a body paragraph of that paper that discusses the evidence that led investigators and/or prosecutors to some of the conclusions that they had drawn. The premises are the logical notion that one factor (being in the vicinity at the time the crime was committed) leads to a conclusion (the individual had the opportunity to commit the crime). The evidence is the actual information you found in your research. You will weigh the evidence against the premises, showing how it led to a conclusion. The sole purpose of this 3-paragraph essay is to show how evidence linked to conlcusions.

A good deductive essay is clear and focused. Each paragraph focuses on a particular aspect or a particular point, using detail and examples to lead to a specific conclusion. The support for one's conclusion is the most important factor. In other words, without supporting one's point, the conclusion is weak.

© T. T. Eiland, October 2000-2019
Last modified: ASugust 21, 2018