Research Paper On Problem Of Induction

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Reasoning, Theory, Induction, Popper, Knowledge, Education, Inductive Reasoning, Observation

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/01/07

Inductive reasoning as opposed to deductive logic, refers to the concept that implies that the general conclusion is not certain but probable and can be derived from the specific instances. In other words, induction is movement from the details towards the generalized picture that depends on these details while deduction is movement in opposite direction – from the general and certain conclusion towards the details that prove this conclusion. The philosophical approach to inductive reasoning is more complex than just the simple progression from specific instances to generalization. Inductive argument rather indicates some degree of support for the possible conclusion but not ensures it. This essay will focus on the problem of induction in more detail with the purpose of explaining the concept of inductive reasoning in general and examining the specific issues related to it.
The important part of any research concerning reasoning is the relationship between inductive and deductive logic. The major gap in research also refers to this problem as many studies focus mainly on one or another concept without investigating the connection between them. The real challenge here is finding the approach that would allow treating the relation between induction and deduction as a psychological question rather than identifying and contrasting inductive problems versus deductive problems. From this perspective, evaluation of each strategy – deductive and inductive, should go hand by hand with comparing them and analyzing the connection between them. Let us consider the problem of the relation between inductive and deductive reasoning from the philosophical standpoint in detail relying on the principle of induction expressed by Russel, Chalmers, and Popper.
First, it must be outlined what forms inductive or deductive reasoning, how it develops, and upon which factors it depends. Reasoning is closely linked with the development of memory and various learning processes. Through learning, people acquire new knowledge, and reasoning is one of the ways to explain this new knowledge, so that it can be adopted and comprehended effectively. The more full and detailed explanation of one or another phenomenon an individual can provide, the deeper is his or her understanding of it. Therefore, explanation is one of the main purposes of reasoning. Reasoning depends on many factors starting from the initial knowledge of the surrounding world, and ending with the psychological skills of the individual that allow applying this knowledge in practice. Whether we talk about deductive or inductive logic, it must be noted that both of these kinds of reasoning are the essential part of cognitive functioning of the individual and, therefore, can have a significant impact on his or her psycho-social activity.
Now, let us figure out what the principle of induction is and how it relates to the problem of induction. According to Russel, knowledge can be gained whether by acquaintance (unmediated contact with some propositional truth) or by description (mediated, indirect contact). Knowledge of description in Russel’s interpretation is more complex. It has two major features: first, it combines particulars with concepts, and second, universals or general principles do not physically exist in immediate experience or in the world per se. However, general principles allow us to go beyond subjective or immediate experience to make connections between particular, unmediated events, experiences, etc. Such approach raises the question about what does knowledge of universals, or general principles, amount to. In an attempt to find the answer for this question, many researchers have faced a serious dilemma that can be formulated as the problem of induction: whether our expectation that what we have dubbed the “laws of nature” themselves ought to continue without change.
Since the inductive inferences are always deemed invalid as there is no necessity involved between the particular cases and the inferences made that a generalization or universal principle follows from these cases (premises), there inferences operate in terms of probability. This is the principle of induction that contributes to the problem of induction paradoxically confusing the researchers who try to resolve the issues related to inductive reasoning. The example of the principle of induction illustrates the problem perfectly. For instance, the dog expects to be fed every day, maybe even in particular time, but it cannot see from its point of view that this expectation can be negated. The dog may not see such outcome for many reasons: maybe, due to lack of information about the specific circumstances that can prevent the usual feeding activity or something else. In any case, humans develop the same thinking pattern following inductive logic implying that the mere fact that something occurred a certain number of times causes animals (including human beings) to expect that it will happen again. Thus, our instincts certainly cause us to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, but we may be in no better position than the chicken which unexpectedly has its neck wrung.
Karl Popper formulates the problem of induction quite differently: as the question of how to establish the truth of universal statements which are based on experience, such as the hypotheses and theoretical systems of the empirical sciences. He argues that the universal truth cannot be determined through experience because an account of an experience (an observation or the result of an experiment) can in the first place be only a singular statement and not a universal one. Popper applies this problem to scientific knowledge emphasizing the idea that all scientific knowledge derived from observation and based on experience cannot corroborate the universal statements as the conclusions drawn out of inductive reasoning only refer to probability but not the certain truth. Let us have a closer look at his response to the problem of induction in the next paragraphs.
Popper considered genuine scientific theory to be subject to falsification because he believed that the theories, when proposed, are merely speculative: they are merely speculating about how the world is, what a phenomena amounts to, etc. In order to understand Popper’s point of view, we must first present the definition of falsification: falsification entails that there exists a logically possible observation statement or set of observation statements that are inconsistent with a hypothesis. That is, there exists the possibility to show that the current hypothesis is false. With such notion of falsification, Popper illustrates how inductive reasoning creates the model of scientific theory that is doomed to be negated sooner or later due to impossibility of its ultimate confirmation.
As a response to the problem of induction, Popper suggests the method opposite to the ideas of inductive logic that he calls the theory of the deductive method of testing, the view that a hypothesis can only be empirically tested and only after it has been advanced. This theory can be a valid substitution for inductive reasoning as it implies that any scientific theory can be regarded as valid only if it has been tested, and those theories that are based only on observations should be abandoned. From the logical perspective, it seems rational. However, Popper’s ideas have their opponents as well.
The major gap in Popper’s theory is that it does not take into account how a theory came into being and how it was constructed or conceived. Moreover, it can be said that all Popper cares about is the notion that observation (experimentation) is linked to the theory, and that a conflicting observation of a theory can be used to logically, by deduction, refute the theory. In this way, the reliance is not about justifying inductive inferences through verification, either by appeal to the past resembling the future or through a principle of probability. Finally, with Popper’s approach we are never logically justified in inferring a universal statement from a singular statement.

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