Drawing Conclusions From an Argument

Instructor: Jessica Mercado

I completed my BA in Criminal Justice in 2015. Currently working on my MS in Homeland Security Management.

In this lesson, learn about the different ways you can draw conclusions. Learn how each one applies in the criminal justice environment and then experience scenarios that include the different ways to draw a conclusion.

Using Your Mind to Solve a Crime

You are a jury member in a controversial trial. Your job is to draw a conclusion based on the two arguments, provided by the defense and prosecution. In order to do this, you must use your reasoning skills to determine a conclusion. The case does not provide a substantial amount of evidence, so it is up to you to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not. What kind of reasoning would occur in this scenario, if the evidence is not substantial? Let's find out!

Deductive Reasoning

Lets start out with deductive reasoning. This type of reasoning is based on already proven logic. What this means, is that if something has been proven as true, then any conclusions drawn from it, will also be true. Lets think about the case you are sitting in on as a jury member. You understand that there is evidence showing that the crime committed, was committed by the defendant. However, the evidence are mainly based on eyewitness testimonies, where they think the person they saw was the defendant. A lot of character assessments of the defendant was provided, but the only hard evidence was a hoodie with the defendant's DNA on it, that was found in the dumpster near the scene of the crime.

Based on this, can you draw a conclusion, on the arguments provided by the defense and prosecution, using deductive reasoning? Lets learn about the other ways to draw conclusions, before giving an answer.

Inductive Reasoning

Now we are at inductive reasoning. This type of reasoning reaches a conclusion that is not based on logic. It is based on a general argument, rather than a specific one, like deductive reasoning. This means that while the evidence within the argument seems to be complete and relevant, it can't be known for sure if it is true or false unless actual observation occurs.

So for the example, where you are in the jury, you determine, that yes, a crime was committed, and yes, the defendant had been in the area of the crime. The evidence provided does not seem to be substantial enough because no one know how or when the hoodie was placed in trash, you also know that the defendant lives in the area and that at night time, no one can make a 100 percent accurate description of the man running from the crime.

Can you make a reasonable conclusion using this type of reasoning, based on the arguments provided by prosecution and defense? One more reasoning process to cover, before you can make a logical decision.

Abductive Reasoning

With abductive reasoning, it is taking incomplete information or observations from an argument and deciding what the best solution would be. Basically, drawing the best possible solution, based on the information that is provided. So, as you are sitting listening to the closing arguments of the trial, you realize, that even though you know some evidence wasn't allowed to be heard in trial, you can still draw a conclusion based on the evidence that was provided.

So would you be using abductive reasoning to draw your conclusion for or against the defendant?

If you said yes, you are correct! As a juror, you are asked to make a verdict based on evidence that is gathered, but the story of what occurred, will never be complete because only the ones who committed the crime, who was a victim of the crime, and partially those who witnessed the crime, know the whole story. Jurors get biased views on what happened, but not always the complete picture, which means that you, as the juror, have to draw the best conclusion, based on what you know, not on what you don't know.

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