Logical Gal and Reasoning like a Doctor

10 Oct

One of our cats died this week:

What a painful decision it is to choose to euthanize an animal when her quality of life is rapidly going down hill.  For years this cat had suffered from a chronic malady.  We struggled with her as we tried different remedies suggested by the vet.  But in the end, there was nothing more we could do.  At the ripe old age of 17 1/2 her organs were too weak to respond to medicine.

As we were chatting awkwardly with the vet who was getting to administer that final drug, I realized that the trial and error solutions that he and previous professionals had suggested were examples of abductive reasoning.

In language-based logic, there are 3 ways of reasoning: deductive, inductive and abductive.

Deductive reasoning is when you go from 2 known truths to a new piece of information.

All cats are curious

Leia is a cat

Therefore, Leia is curious

If the first two premises are true in a correctly formed syllogism (called ‘valid’ ) , then it follows that the conclusion must be true.  The conclusion is, in effect, GUARANTEED to be true. 

Inductive reasoning is more probabilistic.  The conclusion is at best LIKELY to be true.

The hurricane is moving in a northeasterly direction at the rate of 15 miles per hour.

Therefore, if it continues at that same rate and heading, it will probably reach our city by tomorrow night. 

Now to the thought process used by doctors, scientists and detectives.

Abductive reasoning is when you gather evidence and draw the best and most ‘reasonable’ (i.e. based on reasons) conclusion!  Many people rely on this kind of decision-making.  So much of life is uncertain.  But we gather the facts as best we can and we propose a solution or a conclusion. It’s trial and error.  Many of the decisions we take MUST rely on abductive reasoning.  I know this is frustrating to Americans who crave and are almost addicted to having certainty.

It is important, therefore, that you trust the character and procedures of the one who is reasoning this way.  Our cat did die, but all the vets involved in her life worked diligently and with care to provide the best treatments.  We are grateful to them and to God who guided us in that final decision as her owners.

2 Responses to “Logical Gal and Reasoning like a Doctor”

  1. Marcia Boyle October 10, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    I am so sorry Leia is gone. Even though our “little children” are gone physically, they can stay at home in our memories forever.

    • Maria October 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Thanks, Marcia. You are right. Leia is our 5th cat who has shared life with us and passed on. So much love in so few pounds. As painful as it is to let go, we are better humans for having shared our home with her!.

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