Inference and Assumption – Critical Thinking

Define inference and assumption, and then explain the relationship between the two.

It is necessary to understand the elements of reasoning to achieve proficiency in critical thinking. Among these elements, inferences and assumptions are relatively hard to distinguish. The purpose of this paper is to clearly set them apart, lay out their differences, and give examples for elucidation. An inference signifies a step of the mind in which one views something as true in light of a second one being true, or appearing true(Elder & Paul, 2002 p.34). For example, if person A goes to person B with a knife, the latter will probably infer that the former wants to harm them. This gives inferences the possibility of being accurate or inaccurate, justified or unjustified, and logical or illogical.

On the other hand, an assumption is something people presuppose or take for granted(Elder & Paul, 2002 p.34). Normally, this is something that a person had previously learned and, which they do not question for that reason. In other words, this is a part of the belief system. An assumption must be true for given information to be true. For example, because I believe that walking in the streets at night is dangerous (the assumption), I infer that it is risky to walk out in the night in my neighborhood. Here, I take for granted the belief that it dangerous to walk in the streets at night. Taking the first case, the inference that person B made was as a result of the assumption that a person walking towards another person with a knife will most likely use it as a weapon against them.

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