A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

The Problem of Induction

I’ve been dipping into various subjects in philosophy through a survey textbook. Lately I’ve been reading about methodology, or the philosophy of science. One issue in this subject is the Problem of Induction: on what grounds can we trust conclusions made through inductive reasoning? For example, we reason inductively when say, “Event A has always caused event B in the past, therefore, event A will always cause event B in the future.” But we cannot know the future, and we have no guarantee that present patterns will continue in the future. So what makes our conclusion valid?  

Philosophers have approached the problem in various ways but have not yet found a generally agreed-upon solution. (I think this is partly because this problem deals with epistemology, the theory of knowledge, within which there are all kinds of major philosophical disagreements.) Karl Popper approached the problem by focusing on the principle of falsification (what happens when evidence proves hypotheses false). Other philosophers use “paradigm case arguments” to reframe the terms of the problem. “Reliabilists” say that inductions do not have to be logically valid as in deductive reasoning, but merely reliable. This last view, though it still has some philosophical problems, makes the most sense intuitively, I think.



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This entry was posted on May 23, 2013 by in Discoveries from Learning and tagged .
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