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Talk:Reasoning

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Inductive conclusions' being "probable and can measure likelihood"[edit]

In the article it says that "Though it can be argued that while conclusions through induction aren't certain, they are probable and can measure likelihood."

But this misses the whole point of David Hume's critique of inductive reasoning; it's not only that we can't be certain of the truth of inductive conclusions ("I can't be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow"); rather, we can't even reasonably say they're probably true.

If you're not convinced, consider the following: one of the common failed defences of induction is that induction seems to work fairly well - we've used induction in the sciences, in everyday life, and so on, for ages, and we tend to be right if we are careful enough, so we can be fairly confident. Now, what is induction? Roughly, it's this:

I: This relation of cause and effect occurred (regularly) in the past, so it will occur again in the present or future.

Say, for instance, I've observed in the past that kicking a ball with great force will cause the ball to move - in fact, I've observed the ball moving every single time I've observed a ball being kicked with great force. So I reach the inductive conclusion that this ball in front of me, if I kick it with great force, will move.

Now, what is the person who claims that induction is 'probably' the right way to go about things actually claiming? It seemed to Hume that they were claiming something like the following:

I1: This process of reasoning led to a true belief (regularly) in the past, so it will lead to a true belief again in the present or future.

But this, it seems, is just using inductive reasoning about induction; it is, so to speak, an attempt to pull oneself up by one's own bootstraps.

N.b. I'm not saying that induction is completely unreasonable, or that it isn't the best option available, only that there are compelling reasons to reject the assumption that it can be described as 'probably true' merely on the basis of past success. If you want to defend induction properly, you have to go deeper than that. I could be wrong - perhaps the claim wasn't about past observation, but in its current form it needs elaboration. — Unsigned, by: 192.76.8.83 / talk / contribs