Guest Author - Tracy Webb
When we make decisions there are several factors that have to be considered. Each of us bases our decisions on our experiences, confirmation bias, and the resulting reasoning that comes from that.
We all make decisions based on the information we have to hand and the experiences we have under the same or similar circumstances. For example, if I was bullied by someone with red hair and freckles, I may conclude that all people with red hair are freckles are bullies. The information is true; however it is not a logical conclusion to arrive at.
We tend to create assumptions about certain situations we have experienced, whether the information is erroneous or not, and then we base our decision on that information.
In philosophy there are two main forms of reasoning.
Inductive reasoning is similar to the example above. We arrive at our decisions through a process of generalizations and events we have witnessed. While the information is true, it allows for incorrect conclusions. For example; John is overweight and has two children, therefore all men who are overweight have two children. The conclusion is not logical even although the initial information is correct.
This process is used to arrive at a decision through a process of deduction. This allows for a process of logically looking at all the information available and deducing the most likely outcome. For example; Lillie's are white, and Lillie's are flowers, therefore some flowers are white. Deductive reasoning is used when working out theories and scientific research.
Whenever we are making a decision, the truth and feasibility of the conclusion we arrive at is dependent on the initial questions being pondered. If we are trying to reason and decide which career path to take, we need to start from the premise of what is actually possible, realistic and accessible. If you want to be a photographer for example, and base all your dreams on that as an immediate outcome, but have never used a camera before, it is unlikely that you will be considered for employment in photography.
What process do you use when making a decision? I know that most of us will look at past experiences, remember the outcome and what we did in that situation and repeat it in the new situation.
This may sound logical and the proper course of action. However, the funny thing is that we continue these behaviors without thought of the outcome that was achieved. We repeat the same process whether it brought the desired outcome or not. The process of familiarity tends to bring us to the conclusions we arrive at, which may conclude the same outcome as another person.
This is more likely if another person has a similar confirmation bias to you. However the process of reasoning is based on information and experiences unique to us, making individual thought process's unique to us.
Since familiarity leads us to the same conclusions, perhaps taking the lass familiar route will bring new experiences and new outcomes. Henry Ford put it like this; "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."