Scientific activity requires a methodology to carry out any research. There is no single method , but there are several and each of them has its own characteristics. Next, we will approach one of the most used methods in the history of science: the inductive method.
The main feature of this method consists in starting from the particular to conclude in a general idea. In other words, it is about creating laws based on the systematic observation of facts.
The reasoning inductive observe a phenomenon and accumulates information about the same. From the information it is possible to draw a conclusion , that is, of a certain law. Thus, the law indicates a general rule and affects several particular cases. In this sense, it should be made clear that the word induce comes from the Latin “inducere” and means “to be the reason for”. Therefore, the inductive method works according to the idea that particular cases imply a generalization expressed in the form of law.
Induction is a very common mental mechanism. Let’s think of a person working with metals who proves that iron, copper, and zinc heat up after being hit. This observation allows drawing the conclusion that the metal heats up after being struck. In everyday life we use this type of reasoning, but in the scientific field it is intended to create universal laws for the researcher to record all possible cases related to his research.
Criticism of the inductive method
According to the induction criterion, establishing all possible cases related to a phenomenon allows drawing a conclusion. However, when a new case appears contrary to a law, it becomes invalid. This circumstance makes some scientists not approve the inductive methodology, as it is not possible to know all the cases linked to a certain phenomenon.
The weakness of inductive reasoning makes science resort to other research methods, especially the hypothetical deductive. The hypothetical deductive method does not ignore observation as an initial step, but the laws obtained are based on a hypothesis that explains the observed events.
In this way, concrete data are deduced from an explanatory hypothesis (accepted as valid) while the experiment is opposed to the certainty of the hypothesis. This means that the scientists’ conclusions are not presented as valid, but as probable.