Lecture Notes.


Elements of Thought: Inferences

  • Inferences are conclusions or interpretations which are drawn by the receiver.
  • The reasoning process is intended to lead to some conclusion. When the listener, reader, or viewer accepts that conclusion, they have made and inference. Inferences are not limited to the main conclusion. One can make other inferences along the way.
  • NOTE: Inferences may be explicitly stated or implicit.
  • Example:
  • All men are mortal.
    Socrates is a man.
    After looking at those sentences, you should infer or draw the conclusion that Socrates is mortal.


  • One ought to be able to infer the main conclusion of an argument, but it goes beyond that.
  • Inferences are any conclusions the receiver draws along the way.


  • Regarding inferences;
  • Infer only what the evidence implies.
  • Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
  • Identify assumptions which lead you to your inferences.
  • Inferences differ from implications. To learn how, see the next lesson.
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