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Posted: 07 October 2009 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Kaizen - 02 October 2009 01:01 AM

..... 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.

I was expecting someone to mention Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation that explains the facts should be given preference. Inductive reasoning is consistent with that.  My experience has taught me that where I have ignored the simplest explanation I often err (though maybe I am sensitive and notice when I err by ignoring the simple explanation)

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Posted: 07 October 2009 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Jackson - 07 October 2009 07:03 PM

I was expecting someone to mention Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation that explains the facts should be given preference. Inductive reasoning is consistent with that.  My experience has taught me that where I have ignored the simplest explanation I often err (though maybe I am sensitive and notice when I err by ignoring the simple explanation)

The reason I think a response like this isn’t very popular is because the problem of induction is pointing out the inductive reasoning is not logical. If you told me that you enjoy walking slowly across busy freeways (“highways” if you’re on the East Coast) and I pointed out that it is not a logical thing to do, we wouldn’t accept that Occam’s Razor would be a sufficient justification for it.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Kaizen - 07 October 2009 08:08 PM
Jackson - 07 October 2009 07:03 PM

I was expecting someone to mention Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation that explains the facts should be given preference. Inductive reasoning is consistent with that.  My experience has taught me that where I have ignored the simplest explanation I often err (though maybe I am sensitive and notice when I err by ignoring the simple explanation)

The reason I think a response like this isn’t very popular is because the problem of induction is pointing out the inductive reasoning is not logical. If you told me that you enjoy walking slowly across busy freeways (“highways” if you’re on the East Coast) and I pointed out that it is not a logical thing to do, we wouldn’t accept that Occam’s Razor would be a sufficient justification for it.

I don’t understand your example and will re-read it…

This is the kind of example I mean

When I was a student at MIT there was a girl in the dorm that I liked, and one day she claimed that there was strange smell in her refrigerator. She claimed that she had looked and looked and there was no spoiled food in the refrigerator, and that it had to be the refrigerator malfunctioning. Being too gullible (digression deleted) I took her at her word.  However later it turned out it just was spoiled food and I lost the opportunity to impress someone.

This is an example of Occam’s razor—and an example of inductive reasoning. Better than the sun rising example, because in fact it COULD be something else than spoiled food.  Obviously I’m not saying that it is always spoiled food, but it is probably the most likely explanation based on past experience.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Jackson - 08 October 2009 02:55 AM

I don’t understand your example and will re-read it…

This is the kind of example I mean

When I was a student at MIT there was a girl in the dorm that I liked, and one day she claimed that there was strange smell in her refrigerator. She claimed that she had looked and looked and there was no spoiled food in the refrigerator, and that it had to be the refrigerator malfunctioning. Being too gullible (digression deleted) I took her at her word.  However later it turned out it just was spoiled food and I lost the opportunity to impress someone.

This is an example of Occam’s razor—and an example of inductive reasoning. Better than the sun rising example, because in fact it COULD be something else than spoiled food.  Obviously I’m not saying that it is always spoiled food, but it is probably the most likely explanation based on past experience.

Jackson,

It seems like you need a little familiarizing with the problem of induction. Princeton’s write up of induction is fairly short and thorough if you want to look at it: http://www.princeton.edu/~grosen/puc/phi203/induction.html

Keep in mind that the purpose of this thread was to show how using inductive inference is reasonable, so I don’t agree with the argument. But the argument goes something like this.

You never observe causality. If we make a billiard ball hit another one, what we see are two things occurring. We see one ball roll over to another and touch it and then stop, and then we see the other ball move. We never actually see causation. We see one ball move and then another ball move. Because we don’t see causation, we have no way to tell that it will happen again in the future. All we can say is that in that past when an event occurred, Y happened which appeared to be a result of X. But it doesn’t follow that Y will always come after X. So we can’t say with certainty that Y will follow X the next time we do X.

If the argument is accepted, it can lead to some pretty ridiculous things. It would mean that the next time you drive your car, assuming it still exists since the last time you saw it, you would have an equal probability of starting the car with the key in the ignition as you would by pouring kool-aid on the hood.

If my explanation is unclear, I apologize. You should probably look at the link for further clarification.

Phil

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Posted: 08 October 2009 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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If the argument is accepted, it can lead to some pretty ridiculous things. It would mean that the next time you drive your car, assuming it still exists since the last time you saw it, you would have an equal probability of starting the car with the key in the ignition as you would by pouring kool-aid on the hood.

Phil, I have a question for you. What in the universe have we been arguing about for the past week? It seems we agree with each other.

Darron

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Posted: 08 October 2009 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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fotobits - 08 October 2009 12:31 PM

If the argument is accepted, it can lead to some pretty ridiculous things. It would mean that the next time you drive your car, assuming it still exists since the last time you saw it, you would have an equal probability of starting the car with the key in the ignition as you would by pouring kool-aid on the hood.

Phil, I have a question for you. What in the universe have we been arguing about for the past week? It seems we agree with each other.

Darron

Darron,

lol, I told you that I don’t agree with the argument. This thread is my paper explaining why I believe it’s perfectly logical to use induction. I was just explaining the Humean position. From an epistemological standpoint, this “problem” remains unresolved in large by the philosophical community. I’m ambitiously hoping to be able to put this crap to rest.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Question, has anyone actually read the paper all the way through? Not that I blame anyone for not doing it. I’m not sure if I’d be all that motivated to read a post as long as mine.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Kaizen - 08 October 2009 12:50 PM

lol, I told you that I don’t agree with the argument. This thread is my paper explaining why I believe it’s perfectly logical to use induction. I was just explaining the Humean position. From an epistemological standpoint, this “problem” remains unresolved in large by the philosophical community. I’m ambitiously hoping to be able to put this crap to rest.

I’m not sure I understand your motivation. There is one sense in which Hume’s argument can never be put to rest: he’s right that induction is not a logically (deductively) valid operation.

However, in another sense the situation has been completely resolved by the philosophical community: everyone accepts that induction is necessary and appropriate.

The question is how one resolves these two issues, insofar as one wants to behave rationally. My own opinion is that induction is a basic rational operation as much as is deduction, and so requires no separate justification. While this view may not be everyone’s, I think it’s not unique to me.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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fotobits - 06 October 2009 04:57 AM

As for the laws of physics replacing god in our thinking, that is another bit of sophistry. The laws of physics work. We can observe and measure the universe at work. We make predictions and verify them through observations. If the observations contradict the predictions we toss out the theory that led to the predictions and develop better theories. The theories we have now have been verified countless times, and we use them because they work, knowing full well that one contradictory observation would disprove the theory. So far that has not happened with what we consider the fundamental laws of physics, thermodynamics being one such set of laws. There is no evidence of a god


Trouble is, all we are doing is discovering physical laws, so we are discovering the way the universe behaves.

What we are not doing is discovering why it behaves that way, because, as we agree, we do not know why it behaves in accordance with physical laws.

Perhaps it can be shown that there is no need for an answer to the question “why does it behave that way?” or perhaps there is reason to believe science can eventually answer the question “why does it behave that way?”

I don’t know, I just know that as things stand science doesn’t tell us why the universe behaves the way it does and I think this is important when thinking about whether to commit to naturalism and whether to be agnostic or an atheist.

Stephen

[ Edited: 08 October 2009 01:22 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 08 October 2009 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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dougsmith - 08 October 2009 01:01 PM

I’m not sure I understand your motivation. There is one sense in which Hume’s argument can never be put to rest: he’s right that induction is not a logically (deductively) valid operation.

However, in another sense the situation has been completely resolved by the philosophical community: everyone accepts that induction is necessary and appropriate.

They do so as far as I can tell, strictly in the way Hume did. The pragmatic approach aka the “let’s ignore it” approach. I’m hoping that I’m saying something both valid and different than what’s already been said on the subject.

The question is how one resolves these two issues, insofar as one wants to behave rationally. My own opinion is that induction is a basic rational operation as much as is deduction, and so requires no separate justification. While this view may not be everyone’s, I think it’s not unique to me.

I was hoping that you might be able to look at my explanation and possibly point out where I might be wrong in my approach to this.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Kaizen - 08 October 2009 01:54 PM

I was hoping that you might be able to look at my explanation and possibly point out where I might be wrong in my approach to this.

Well, I’m sure you appreciate that I don’t have time to go through it all—it’s quite a lot of work to analyze a paper like the one you’ve written. And I must say that generally it appears to me (on a quick reading) to be interesting and intelligently written.

What confuses me is the distinction between “levels of realness” (or, perhaps better put, “levels of reality”). What does that mean?

The only way I can understand the distinction is between propositions that represent true states of affairs, and those that don’t. It’s not like there are things out there in the world with different levels of reality, sort of like some things are fully illuminated, and others rather more dim.

So it seems at least at first glance (and this is only a glance) as though you’re getting round Hume’s problem basically by saying that yes, induction produces (or can produce) falsehoods. That does get round the issue of logical deduction, by granting it.

But then how does it make induction something rational to pursue? Presumably it’s rational because it tends to produce truths. But of course, there’s no way to know that its tendency to produce truths will continue into the future; at least, not deductively.

At any rate, I don’t think inductive statements or the conclusions of inductive arguments have any different status as to the claimed reality of the objects they refer to. They may have different epistemic status, but then, different from what? Our epistemic status towards the past is similarly problematic. Logic and mathematics aside, all we ever do is make estimates.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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dougsmith - 08 October 2009 02:22 PM

Well, I’m sure you appreciate that I don’t have time to go through it all—it’s quite a lot of work to analyze a paper like the one you’ve written. And I must say that generally it appears to me (on a quick reading) to be interesting and intelligently written.

Yes, I completely understand that it’s on the long side for many folks. Thank you for the compliment.

What confuses me is the distinction between “levels of realness” (or, perhaps better put, “levels of reality”). What does that mean?

The only way I can understand the distinction is between propositions that represent true states of affairs, and those that don’t. It’s not like there are things out there in the world with different levels of reality, sort of like some things are fully illuminated, and others rather more dim.

I thought I would have some trouble with that. I was really talking about levels of certainty. That when in doubt, we must refer to actual experience rather than seemingly logical consequences of experience.

So it seems at least at first glance (and this is only a glance) as though you’re getting round Hume’s problem basically by saying that yes, induction produces (or can produce) falsehoods. That does get round the issue of logical deduction, by granting it.

But then how does it make induction something rational to pursue? Presumably it’s rational because it tends to produce truths. But of course, there’s no way to know that its tendency to produce truths will continue into the future; at least, not deductively.

In the identification of anything within experience brings with it a certain type of understanding, not just in the object/event itself but also in its relationship to other objects within experience. Inductions are justified in that they must be invoked to allow that identification process to occur, without which there would be no coherent understanding to act upon. The “inferential byproducts” that necessarily result from identification and it’s inherent context of understanding are deduced. They are logical within a context of a certain type of understanding which is brought on by identification.

Sacrificial offerings by primitive tribes were rational within the context of their understanding. That context was provided specifically by the understanding of objects/events within their experience, which was was brought on by identification, which was the result of inductions used to allow the identities to have their meaning- the ability to distinguish or find commonalities between objects within experience.

At any rate, I don’t think inductive statements or the conclusions of inductive arguments have any different status as to the claimed reality of the objects they refer to.

This I agree to, however I’m arguing that when the understanding or identification of an object changes (as knowledge builds, etc), then the inductive statements that follow must change.

They may have different epistemic status, but then, different from what? Our epistemic status towards the past is similarly problematic. Logic and mathematics aside, all we ever do is make estimates.

I guess I’m saying that the estimates are occurring at a deeper level than what I believe people are normally saying. I thinking that they are instinctively occurring at the level of identification.

[ Edited: 08 October 2009 03:07 PM by Kaizen ]
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Posted: 08 October 2009 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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fotobits - 06 October 2009 03:14 PM

In one post you stated philosophy has an important role in quantum physics, and in the next you acknowledged that if a philosopher wants to contribute to our knowledge of quantum physics that philosopher will need to spend years studying physics and math. What philosopher is qualified? I know of none.

Umm…Hilary Putnam? See his seminal paper on quantum logic.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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fotobits - 06 October 2009 04:57 AM

Hume was wrong, and discussing his ideas as if they had some relevance to life and the universe is a waste of time.

You have not shown that Hume was wrong, only asserted this. In order to show that Hume was wrong you would have to solve the POI, until then he is right. Induction cannot be logically proven. If you can show that this can be logically proven then you will have shown Hume to be wrong. Ironically this is what Kaizen was trying to do, so who are you arguing against!!!! (sorry Kaizen I did not have the time to read the whole paper so cannot comment on your claim).

Note Hume was making a challenge to a foundationalist and absolutist epistemology. He was not trying to deny science, only to find the appropriate epistemological basis for it. Modern post-Popper/Pierce provisionalism is entirely in accordance with Hume’s insights on induction.

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Posted: 08 October 2009 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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faithlessgod - 08 October 2009 03:23 PM

You have not shown that Hume was wrong, only asserted this. In order to show that Hume was wrong you would have to solve the POI, until then he is right. Induction cannot be logically proven. If you can show that this can be logically proven then you will have shown Hume to be wrong. Ironically this is what Kaizen was trying to do, so who are you arguing against!!!! (sorry Kaizen I did not have the time to read the whole paper so cannot comment on your claim).

When I asserted Hume was wrong I was referring to these words of his:

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.

It doesn’t take much logic to see where Hume was wrong. I really don’t give a damn about proving induction logically. It works. It has been shown to work repeatedly, from the Planck scale to the Cosmological scale and all points between. No one will bet against induction working, lest they owe me a bottle of tequila. Only philosophers and Englishmen will argue against induction, and even they will not put up their money when it comes time to quit bullshitting and start getting things done.

And yeah, I now realize I was arguing with Kaizen when I agreed with him. I’m either too unsophisticated in the ways of philosophy or too grounded in realism to lose sleep over the picayune points which philosophers find so fascinating. My criterion for an idea is simple. Does it work or not? Hume’s arguments against induction do not work. They sound good, but have no application to how the universe operates. Sophistry.

I’ll have to research Hilary Putnam, but I have three tests next week and have to help my wife work on a 15-page paper for her graduate school class. I’m going to be a bit busy (and possibly stressed) for the next few days.

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