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 Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction

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Taxer666
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PostSubject: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:07 pm

If you have ever taken an intro course in philosophy or even just looked into it then you have probably heard of David Hume's famous argument against induction. Now for those of you that are uninitiated, induction is simply deriving that something will happen because of events that have happened in the past. For example, the sun has risen every day, so the sun will rise tomorrow. Pretty simple stuff and we use this kind of reasoning all the time.

Now the problem is that according to Hume, one has no warrant using induction on any rational basis. This is due to there being two kinds of knowledge: a priori and a posteriori. A priori knowledge is knowledge that is independent of experience, e.g. all bachelors are unmarried. Knowledge of this nature are abstract objects, mathematical truths, and so forth. A posteriori knowledge is then the opposite and is acquired through experience, such as fire is hot. So anything that involves any kind of experience like empirical tests and testimony fall under this category.

The argument here is that there is no a priori basis for induction, since you cannot derive that the sun will rise tomorrow. There is nothing in the concept of the sun or that you can derive from math to suggest that the sun will indeed rise tomorrow. The only way to even come to that conclusion is to bear witness to the sun rising.

You cannot base induction in a posteriori knowledge either because it begs the question. You are justifying that your knowledge acquired through experience is justified because it has always been reliable, but we are asking why is it that induction is reliable. You cannot justify induction through a posteriori knowledge because you come across circularity.

Now you may say that of course you can't say that the sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen in the past, but rather the fact that it was has always risen in the past gives you good enough probabilistic knowledge of what could occur. However, this approach begs the question as well. You are already assuming that induction is reliable and it gives you good probabilistic knowledge when we are asking what justification you have for using it in the first place.

Now why is this a problem? Well, all of science is based upon using induction. Scientists test out hypotheses through experiments and come to create generalizations and theories based on their observations. If induction cannot be justified in either a priori or as posteriori knowledge, then that means that science and all other empirical fields are completely irrational and no better than being based in superstition.

Thoughts on the matter?
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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:17 pm

I think that's one of my biggest problems with science in general is their use of induction. I'm not very well-versed on philosophical matters, but I am aware that so much of science is based solely on observation. For example, science observes the forces of gravity. They can't explain how it works, but then they go on and assume that the properties of gravity can affect things in outer space. How do they know that? It's all pure conjecture based off of something that is not actually known.

Another thing I cite is how science often finds out later that they were wrong about something, but also using information that is not actually known. The science of the fad diets and health segments on the news is a good example I think. They are constantly talking about the supposed benefits of doing something, or eating something, only to find out later that they were totally wrong. That is because they don't actually know what is going on, they just observe effects and then assume that it is from this diet or whatever.

Also, sorry if this is not at all what you are talking about. I definitely don't know much about philosophy

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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:37 pm

Taxer did you copy this from a paper you've written or did you just type this out?
I don't think I could give a respectful philosophical answer so I'll just stay impressed

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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:38 pm

I just sat down and wrote it out all train of thought-like. My essays are much better. Also Axe, that's not the point of the topic but good try chap.
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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:40 pm

If induction cannot be justified, surely fallibilism becomes the only working principle of knowledge? Other theories of knowledge become irrelevant: for example, empiricism relies on a posteriori knowledge.

Fallibilism states that certainty of knowledge is impossible in the first place, and what knowledge or beliefs we do have can be justified even if they are wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:57 pm

Well you can have a priori knowledge. If Fallibilism as you have defined it is the case, then it is self refuting because you cannot have knowledge of Fallibilism.

You can have justified beliefs if they are wrong though. The problem here is that according to the argument that induction cannot be justified on relying on any rational foundation.
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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:32 am

Looks like you guys are far too low-brow for philosophy, and here I thought this was going to be a gentleman's corner.
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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:33 am

I'd need to take a course in order to post in this thread lol

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PostSubject: Re: Taxer's Philosophical Inquiry 3: The Problem of Induction   Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:53 pm

Guess I'll go with an easier topic next time.
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