A Brief Essay On Inductive And Deductive Legal Research
What we think is what we become is a well-known aphorism. Our thoughts
and line of reasoning must be guided by objectivism instead of being mired in
prejudice, stereotypes and unverified assumptions. In a society like India
where, individuals and communities suffer from an inter-sectionality of
discrimination, vertically and horizontally, the realities of our social
structure make it essential that objectivity is preserved not as a matter of
convenience but as an unbreachable virtue.
This talisman becomes all the more
relevant for the occupants of key positions, such as those who play the role of
judges, lawyers, academecians, etc. They constantly help in expounding and
evolving the lex loci, which is paramount in achieving the social revolution
which our Constitution seeks to achieve. This essay throws light on the
inductive and deductive methodologies of reasoning and their relevance to legal
Our Constitution which seeks to be an instrument ushering in a social
revolution aims at promoting an egalitarian society. It is cognizant of the
practical asymmetries in the power relations in our society that operate both
vertically and horizontally. The myriad shades of discrimination in the form of
gender, caste, ethnicity, e.tc are only indicative illustrations.
During the first year of the global pandemic caused by the Corona Virus
(2019-2020), A study commissioned by the Indian Council of Social Science
Research (ICSSR) on racial discrimination and hate crimes against people from
the northeast States found that the northeast India seamlessly fits [an]
Indian's imagination of a Chinese person.
While North-easterners have traditionally faced discrimination due to a variety
of reasons, what is critical is the ramifications that these aberrations of the
social psyche can result into during extraordinary circumstances such as the
When access to justice and critical healthcare is already constrained, it could
lead to exacerbation of the difficulties faced by millions of vulnerable people.
This case-study only underscores the need for preserving the dignity of human
life and protection of fundamental rights. In fact the Indian judiciary has been
very vocal about the transformative role which the constitution must play in
rectifying the imbalances within our society.
Empowered with the philosophy of a constitutional morality that trumps all forms
of injustice, real or imagined, the Supreme Court of India rechristened the
social revolution as transformative Constitutionalism. what needs to be
understood is the what room is there for logic in this great feat of
transforming the Indian society.
How judges decide cases?The law, its creation and operation, and adjudication form part of a single
coherent system. There must be consistency in the norms of that system for
efficient functioning of the same. MacCormick says that:
All rules which are rules of law are so because they belong to a particular
legal system, and that they belong to the system because they satisfy formal
criteria of recognition operative within that system as an effective working
social order. Rules cannot be cabined, they operate only through their
application by judges and judges arrive at decisions by applying rules to
situations of fact that come before them.
Pitfalls of the deductive approachThis deductive approach of legal reasoning, which essentially derives a
conclusion by perfect logical processes from well-defined premises, though
helpful in deciding many cases cannot apply to multi-dimensional scenarios
involving human beings without many challenges. Let us take the example of a
minor boy, five years in age, who is pressed for subsistence to perform manual
work in lieu of wages.
His work, in abstention from regular schooling, is illegal by implication if
we follow strict deductive methods, that is to say that one, he lives in an
area where the particular law forbidding child labour is in application, second
, he is a child because he falls within the definition of a child by
virtue of his age falling within the parameters set by the law, third, the law
prohibits in toto the engagement of a person of such age in any kind of work,
without exception and that he is engaged in the same. He must as a result be
injuncted from continuing with his present occupation and his employer must be
penalized as per the same logic.
However the above approach has many pitfalls, seen from another angle. First
the boy could be the only earning member of his family and barring him from work
could deprive the entire family of their bare subsistence. Secondly, the
question as to whether the state has put in place an alternative system in the
form of an efficient distribution network of foodgrains and other basic
amenities must not escape our discussion. Thirdly, even if in place, is access
to such provisions easy, if not what is the nature of impediments that the
child could face? This kind of holistic questioning leads us to the conclusion
that barring the child from work might not necessarily be beneficial to him, in
the absence of state's affirmative intervention. This brings us closer to the
idea of Bounded rationality.
The Concept of Bounded RationalityThere are two reasons for perfect or deductive rationality to break down under
complication. The obvious one is that beyond a certain level of complexity human
logical capacity ceases to cope-human rationality is bounded. The other is that
in interactive situations of complication, agents
cannot rely upon the other agents they are dealing with to behave under perfect
rationality, and so they are forced to guess their behavior. This lands them in
a world of subjective beliefs, and subjective beliefs
about subjective beliefs.
Modern psychologists are in reasonable agreement that in situations that are
complicated or ill-defined, humans use characteristic and predictable methods of
reasoning. These methods are not deductive, but inductive… we are superb at
seeing or recognizing or matching patterns-behaviors that confer obvious
evolutionary benefits. In problems of complication then, we look for patterns;
and we simplify the problem by using these to construct temporary internal
models or hypotheses or schemata to work with.
Thus, even governments have come to frame their policies around a feedback
oriented approach. During the Corona Virus Pandemic induced lockdowns, often
termed in the popular media as the Great Lockdown, governments such as our own
followed the Bayesian updating approach to handle the challenge before them
given the uncertainties surrounding the causative and resultant factors
involved in the pandemic.
Bayesian updating is an instance of a combined
deductive-inductive approach, a potential tool for public policy and legal
applications. Bayes' theorem, named after 18th-century British mathematician
Thomas Bayes, is a mathematical formula for determining conditional probability.
Conditional probability is the likelihood of an outcome occurring, based on a
previous outcome occurring. Bayes' theorem provides a way to revise existing
predictions or theories (update probabilities) given new or additional evidence.
While we our society is embroiled in superstitions and prejudices that could
irreparably lead to the othering of an individual or a community or sometimes
even lead to wastage of public resources or exchequer money, the traditions of
logic are deepy rooted in India. In fact, it was the Nyaya and Vaisheshika
schools of ancient philosophy which laid the foundations of modern physical
sciences and taught us to see an atom as an atom. It is these early atomists
and that laid the foundations of reason based judgement and decision making.
Therefore, logic is an ancient legacy in India. However, true progress can only
be realized when that legacy is reclaimed and made more popular in all spheres
of public and individual life.
Amartya Sen observes that:
the exaggerated focus on religiosity has (also) contributed to an
underestimation of the reach of public reasoning in India and the diversity of
Thus for laws to be successful, a top down approach might not be the best way
to bring about a social revolution. Sometimes in pursuit of its egalitarian
goals, judges import philosophies influenced by their western counterparts
which might be highly erroneous for Indian needs. Therefore, logic demands a
clear connection with our social realities. In the spirit of the fundamental
mandate prescribed by the Constitution of India, we must endeavour to develop
the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
Law Article in India
You May Like
Legal Question & Answers