Deductive reasoning

In there being a subformula in common between the two premises that does not occur in the consequence, this resembles syllogisms in term logic, although it differs in that this subformula is a proposition whereas in Aristotelian logic, this common element is a term and not a proposition.

The following is an example of an argument using a hypothetical syllogism:

The following is an example of an argument that is “valid”, but not “sound”:

The example's first premise is false – there are people who eat carrots who are not quarterbacks – but the conclusion would necessarily be true, if the premises were true. In other words, it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. Therefore, the argument is “valid”, but not “sound”. False generalizations – such as "Everyone who eats carrots is a quarterback" – are often used to make unsound arguments. The fact that there are some people who eat carrots but are not quarterbacks proves the flaw of the argument.

Deductive reasoning can be contrasted with inductive reasoning, in regards to validity and soundness. In cases of inductive reasoning, even though the premises are true and the argument is “valid”, it is possible for the conclusion to be false (determined to be false with a counterexample or other means).

Dr. McGrew further adds that the sole method to ensure that a conclusion deductively drawn from a group of premises is more probable than not is to use premises the conjunction of which is more probable than not. This point is slightly tricky, because it can lead to a possible misunderstanding. What is being searched for is a general principle that specifies factors under which, for any logical consequence C of the group of premises, C is more probable than not. Particular consequences will differ in their probability. However, the goal is to state a condition under which this attribute is ensured, regardless of which consequence one draws, and fulfilment of that condition is required to complete the task.

This principle can be demonstrated in a moderately clear way. Suppose, for instance, the following group of premises: