Friday, January 25, 2008

The Problem of Induction

By Sudipa Sarkar
Hume’s problem of induction characterizes the problem of predicting future using present context. Hume questioned about the rational justification involved in concluding about the unobserved things by asserting on two problems - descriptive and normative in nature. While illustrating the descriptive problem, he primarily stressed on two propositions – relations of ideas and matters of fact. In the problem of induction, the matters of fact is the point needs to be analyzed, where both the factor and its denial are fully plausible, possible and non self-contradictory in nature.

Why the Problem of Induction is a Problem for Science

Hume’s proposition depicts the futile possibility to justify a law in the context of past observation and experience by employing the method of induction, whereas the science itself proposes that the law exists in all dimension, it inevitably leads to a logical conflict while considering the principle of empiricism asserting science be the result of observation and experiment may justify the method of induction in accepting or rejecting any scientific phenomenon, including laws and theories.

Proposed Solution to the Problem as Discussed by Salmon

Salmon asserts on the heightened probability of some inductive methods compared to other methods of reasoning such as crystal gazing as it affirms of admitting either the regular laws or not. In that case, if it corresponds to the condition, the method of induction will provide the best answer but not crystal gazing. In case, it does not correspond to the law, neither induction nor crystal gazing can be useful.

We cannot avoid inductive reasoning that implies that we are unable to develop a belief based on induction in a purely rationalistic way leading to an ineffective prediction of the future or any generalization. But this notion doesn’t interfere much with our interaction to the practical world and self. However, it is true that we cannot rely fully on the causal power within a phenomenon, but we can infer from habits or culture or from the knowledge we developed as a result of our interaction with experiences and can be reconceived the ideas about that phenomenon in question.
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