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Posted: 28 September 2009 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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[ Edited: 26 April 2011 01:58 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 28 September 2009 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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[ Edited: 26 April 2011 01:59 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 28 September 2009 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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[ Edited: 26 April 2011 01:59 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 28 September 2009 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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[ Edited: 26 April 2011 01:59 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 28 September 2009 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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[ Edited: 26 April 2011 02:00 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 01 October 2009 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Well, right off I can see a major problem:

...that because the sun has “risen” everyday as far back as humans have recorded, then it must rise tomorrow. We cannot even say that it is “probable” to rise tomorrow. Future events are not bound by logic to follow from past events.

This is a poor example. I can fire up one of several planetarium programs on my computer and predict the exact time and place of tomorrow’s sunrise from any place on earth. Not only that, I can plan my astronomical observing sessions and know where to find planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies far into the future. Future events may not be bound by logic, but future astronomical events are bound by the laws of nature and can be predicted with remarkable accuracy using math and physics. If this did not work NASA would be unable to send probes to other planets.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 01:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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fotobits - 01 October 2009 06:20 PM

Well, right off I can see a major problem:...

...This is a poor example. I can fire up one of several planetarium programs on my computer and predict the exact time and place of tomorrow’s sunrise from any place on earth. Not only that, I can plan my astronomical observing sessions and know where to find planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies far into the future. Future events may not be bound by logic, but future astronomical events are bound by the laws of nature and can be predicted with remarkable accuracy using math and physics. If this did not work NASA would be unable to send probes to other planets.

Not trying to sound sarcastic, but are you familiar with this problem? Hume’s argument is saying that you’re being viciously circular by assuming that the future must be like the past. Just because physics has been accurate in retrospect, there’s no guarantee that it will work tomorrow. Once we find that it was in fact accurate, it has already past and we cannot say the same thing about tomorrow again.

Your argument goes something like this:
Physics has shown to be accurate in all examples in the past
Therefore, it must be accurate in the future
(On top of this, it must be representative of all things not observed)

But according to the problem of induction, the conclusion doesn’t follow. All the examples of “success” means is that it has worked in the past. It’s akin to saying that because you guessed the card that I pulled out of a deck accurately, then you must be able to guess it accurately next time. To be clear, this is not my problem and I’m not the one arguing for it. I’m arguing against it.

[ Edited: 02 October 2009 01:03 AM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 02 October 2009 01:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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fotobits - 01 October 2009 06:20 PM

Well, right off I can see a major problem:

...that because the sun has “risen” everyday as far back as humans have recorded, then it must rise tomorrow. We cannot even say that it is “probable” to rise tomorrow. Future events are not bound by logic to follow from past events.

This is a poor example. I can fire up one of several planetarium programs on my computer and predict the exact time and place of tomorrow’s sunrise from any place on earth. Not only that, I can plan my astronomical observing sessions and know where to find planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies far into the future. Future events may not be bound by logic, but future astronomical events are bound by the laws of nature and can be predicted with remarkable accuracy using math and physics. If this did not work NASA would be unable to send probes to other planets.

If I remember correctly, it is an example of Hume himself. It has its place there.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Kaizen - 28 September 2009 12:11 PM

Conclusion

What we can now (hopefully) see is that these ideas, our inductive inferences made toward the unknown past, the unknown present and the future are all used by our minds for 3 major purposes:

1) To create a deep understanding of the current experience & memory.
2) To maintain logical consistency of the consequences that are necessary for meaning
3) To help us decide how to behave in the current experience.

In sum, the major mistake being made is that we are assigning the same level of realness to our inferences as we are to our current experience. Inferences must not be considered to have that same level of realness for reasons explained throughout this paper. The POI is a problem not only because claims of the future are justified by past occurrences, but also because claims of realness are being made of the un-experienced (that which we infer and do not experience first hand). Avoid either one of these problems effectively and there’s no more POI. I avoid the circularity issue because my justification of induction makes no claims about the unexperienced in the traditional sense. That is, any explanation of the unexperienced is actually an indirect way to explain and understand the experienced. This creates a malleable picture of what is, has or will occur outside of experience and memory, while allowing meaning to exist, thereby justifying the use of induction
without violating Hume’s “Problem of Induction.”

Notwithstanding Hume’s POI, to get a wider perspective, we should consider what comes before inductive and deductive reasoning. This is abductive reasoning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abductive_reasoning

Abduction is a method of logical inference introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce which comes prior to induction and deduction for which the colloquial name is to have a “hunch”. Abductive reasoning starts when an inquirer considers of a set of seemingly unrelated facts, armed with an intuition that they are somehow connected. The term abduction is commonly presumed to mean the same thing as hypothesis; however, an abduction is actually the process of inference that produces a hypothesis as its end result[1]. It is used in both philosophy and computing.

Application in the philosophy of science:

In the philosophy of science, abduction has been the key inference method to support scientific realism, and much of the debate about scientific realism is focused on whether abduction is an acceptable method of inference.

Abductive validation:

Abductive validation is the process of validating a given hypothesis through abductive reasoning. This can also be called reasoning through successive approximation. Under this principle, an explanation is valid if it is the best possible explanation of a set of known data. The best possible explanation is often defined in terms of simplicity and elegance (see Occam’s razor).

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Posted: 02 October 2009 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If Hume knew what he was talking about then planetarium programs could not predict the positions of stars, planets, etc. We’ve read a bit of Hume this semester in my ethics class. Here is some more from Hume.

Our senses inform us of the colour, weight, and consistency of bread; but neither sense nor reason can ever inform us of those qualities which fit it for the nourishment and support of a human body. Sight and or feeling conveys an idea of the actual motion of bodies; but as to that wonderful force or power, which would carry on a moving body for ever in a continued change of place, and which bodies never lose but by communicating it to others; of that we cannot form the most distant conception.

Wrong on both counts.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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fotobits - 01 October 2009 06:20 PM

Well, right off I can see a major problem

Ok, to continue it a little. Hume is talking about the problem of induction. And inductive reasoning really is not logical in the strict sense. So how is valid knowledge possible? If valid knowledge can only be deducted (~logic and mathematics), then there is not much valid knowledge. Now Hume was not blind for progress in science, so he accepted empirical data as input for logic, but it would never lead to sure knowledge, because of the problem of induction.

When we go through libraries, convinced of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume - of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance - let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning about quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experiential reasoning about matters of fact and existence? No. Then throw it in the fire, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

It was Kant who was so impressed by the beauty and exactness of Newtons laws, that, even when he agreed with Hume’s scepticism, he found there must a basis for sure knowledge. He placed it in the categories of the mind.

Hope I remember everything correct, and if not, Doug can correct me…

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Posted: 02 October 2009 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Basically, Hume was saying that inductive reasoning isn’t logically valid. That is, reasoning of this form is not logically valid:

Crow #1 is black
Crow #2 is black
Crow #3 is black
...
Crow #n is black
————————-
All crows are black (or) Crow #(n+1) is black


Clearly, the conclusion does not follow logically from the premises.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Hume wasn’t talking about crows in the passage I cited above. He specifically stated we can never know how bread is fit to nourish the human body, nor can we know why a body in motion continues in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Science has proven him wrong on both points.

Anyone who says we cannot predict future events by past actions is arguing insignificant trifles. Crows are not events, and do not have anything to do with the lead to Kaizen’s essay. He wrote, “The ‘Problem of Induction’ (POI) is essentially that it does not logically follow that because events have occurred in the past, they must continue in the future; that because the sun has ‘risen’ everyday as far back as humans have recorded, then it must rise tomorrow.”

That much is true, but it is an irrelevant argument. So what if inductive reasoning does not prove the sun will rise tomorrow? We can predict it using inductive reasoning. Arguing we cannot prove it until tomorrow is pointless. The sun will rise tomorrow. I know it. You know it. We all know it. Anyone who doubts it is welcome to place money where mouth resides and buy me some tequila tomorrow.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 07:42 AM

Hume wasn’t talking about crows in the passage I cited above. He specifically stated we can never know how bread is fit to nourish the human body, nor can we know why a body in motion continues in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Science has proven him wrong on both points.

Yes and no. Recall that he was writing after Descartes, who wanted to find “foundational” knowledge—certain knowledge. Those he got from sense data and logical operations. (More or less. I’m glossing a bit here).

So what Hume is saying, basically, is that we can’t have certain knowledge about these things because we can’t see them directly or infer them logically from things we see directly. Nowadays we’d say we can know them because we use a different form of reasoning than deductive logic. In the case you raise, we use “abductive” reasoning, or “inference to the best explanation”.

But just like induction, abduction is also not logically valid.

Nowadays, of course, we’ve long ago dropped aside any claims to a foundationalist epistemology, so we aren’t concerned to use terms like “know” with things we know from induction and abduction. But Hume was writing in a different historical milieu.

fotobits - 02 October 2009 07:42 AM

Anyone who says we cannot predict future events by past actions is arguing insignificant trifles. Crows are not events, and do not have anything to do with the lead to Kaizen’s essay. He wrote, “The ‘Problem of Induction’ (POI) is essentially that it does not logically follow that because events have occurred in the past, they must continue in the future; that because the sun has ‘risen’ everyday as far back as humans have recorded, then it must rise tomorrow.”

That much is true, but it is an irrelevant argument. So what if inductive reasoning does not prove the sun will rise tomorrow? We can predict it using inductive reasoning. Arguing we cannot prove it until tomorrow is pointless. The sun will rise tomorrow. I know it. You know it. We all know it. Anyone who doubts it is welcome to place money where mouth resides and buy me some tequila tomorrow.

Well, speaking in the language of present-day science, of course you are right to say these are “insignificant trifles”, but in the history of science, Descartes and Hume’s understanding of epistemology played something of a central role. So at the very least its of historical interest. And then, also, if you’re interested in epistemology for its own sake you sort of have to get this all under your belt to know where knowledge comes from.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 07:42 AM

That much is true, but it is an irrelevant argument. So what if inductive reasoning does not prove the sun will rise tomorrow? We can predict it using inductive reasoning. Arguing we cannot prove it until tomorrow is pointless. The sun will rise tomorrow. I know it. You know it. We all know it. Anyone who doubts it is welcome to place money where mouth resides and buy me some tequila tomorrow.

Is it impossible that the sun may explode sometime today? On the epistemological level, this is circular reasoning. And whether you care or not doesn’t change the argument. Clearly I disagree with Hume’s conclusions, so I wouldn’t make that kind of a bet with you. But I don’t push it aside on your reasoning. You seem to be taking the Humean approach, which is “Well, I can’t do anything about reasoning this way, so it’s not a problem.” You see how that’s a non-solution?

Hume says we can’t predict what color the next crow will be just because all the crows that we’ve seen have been black. Your response is, “So what? All of the crows I’ve seen were black so the next one will be. End of argument.”

I don’t know about the specifics in the differences between Newtonian physics and Einstein’s Relativity, but I do know that Einstein’s theory accounts for something that Newtonian physics would be wrong about. So in this sense, you would’ve owed someone a shot of tequila had you bet about that.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Kaizen - 02 October 2009 10:20 AM

Is it impossible that the sun may explode sometime today? On the epistemological level, this is circular reasoning. And whether you care or not doesn’t change the argument. Clearly I disagree with Hume’s conclusions, so I wouldn’t make that kind of a bet with you. But I don’t push it aside on your reasoning. You seem to be taking the Humean approach, which is “Well, I can’t do anything about reasoning this way, so it’s not a problem.” You see how that’s a non-solution?

No, the sun will not explode someday, much less sometime today. That is ridiculous. My conclusions are not based on circular reasoning or any kind of philosophical sophistry, but on known physics. We can predict the future. Our sun will swell to a red giant and incinerate the earth in a few billion years. Betelguese will go supernova in the relatively near future. The Orion Nebula will be prominent in the North American skies this winter. The sun will rise tomorrow. It is fairly simple, and has nothing to do with philosophy.

Hume says we can’t predict what color the next crow will be just because all the crows that we’ve seen have been black. Your response is, “So what? All of the crows I’ve seen were black so the next one will be. End of argument.”

I don’t know about the specifics in the differences between Newtonian physics and Einstein’s Relativity, but I do know that Einstein’s theory accounts for something that Newtonian physics would be wrong about. So in this sense, you would’ve owed someone a shot of tequila had you bet about that.

I specifically excluded crows from my conclusions, and stuck with stuff that matters, not meaningless arguments only philosophers find interesting. If I were betting a shot of tequila regarding a question of Relativity vs. Newtonian physics I would bet on the side of Relativity when necessary and Newtonian physics at all other times, because Newtonian physics still works and the math is easier.

From your original essay:

So it appears that we have no rationale for making claims of the future at all. There would be no logical contradiction if reality as we know it spontaneously turned chaotic at any moment. Any use of inductive inference seems to automatically assume a “Uniformity of Nature”; the justification of which has yet to reach a consensus within the philosophical community.

I don’t know if these are Hume’s words or yours, but either way I could not disagree more strongly. There is no logical reason to think physical laws that have worked for 13.7 billion years can suddenly, without warning, turn from orderly to chaotic. This isn’t philosophy, it is physics.

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