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The Problem of Induction is a philosophical poser which threatens the very foundation of what we know as Universal Generalizations (UGs) (Bebee, 2002) or as what David Hume refers to as ‘matters of fact’ (Johns, 2009). These UGs or matters of fact are the empirical claims that are made in everyday life or through scientific methods. Examples can range from something as mundane as the sun rising in the east to more scientific claims such as all free-falling bodies falling with the constant acceleration due to gravitation. All such matters of fact are held to be true mainly by inference or induction. Because we have seen the sunrise in the east every morning, we assume or infer that it had done so even in the past which is beyond the physical experience of humankind as also in the future of which we cannot have any conceivable experience whatsoever. In other words, we are extrapolating or interpolating experience to the realms of the unknown.
The problem of induction questions whether we can actually arrive at the truth by such inductive reasoning. It identifies a reason void or gap between the cause-and-effect relationship that is at the heart of inductive reasoning. In other words what is inferred from practical observations is not based on reasoning, it is simply a way of saying that since a particular cause is found to produce the same effect from a number of observations, the same cause must have produced the same effect even in a time period when we are unable to observe the cause practically produce the same effect.
Although David Hume first presented the problem in the middle of the Eighteenth Century (Hume, 1978), its roots go back to the Pyrrhonism or Pyrrhonian skepticism of ancient philosophy founded by Aenesidemus in the First century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the in the late Second Century or early Third Century AD Wikipedia (2009).
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This research paper “The Problem of Induction: Scientists’ Woes” examines the Problem of Induction from all aspects, and moots an approach whereby the problem of induction can be fruitfully utilized for the betterment of science and technology…
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The Problem of Induction
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