Sections

Distinctions

Model of reality

Experience model

Expertise model



Induction

Our knowledge about light switches goes beyond one light switch.

Over time we will have experiences with many light switches.

And here is an interesting thing.

When we go into a room and find it to be darker than we like, our instinct is to look for a switch that will turn on the light.

We will never have seen that light switch, but we make a prediction about where it will be and what it will do.

And we take action based on that prediction.

We are using our Working Knowledge.

 

Our knowledge about light switches goes far beyond those with which we have direct experience.

Our knowledge extends to myriads of light switches that we have never seen and that we will never see.

We have direct experience of a few light switches and that leads us to a prediction about the general behaviour of all light switches.

This process by which we move from the specific experiences of a few to a general conclusion about an uncounted number is called induction.

 

(Induction goes from specific experiences to a generalisation.

Deduction goes from the generalisation to a conclusion about a specific situation.)

 

 

 

Philosophers have argued about Induction for hundreds of years.

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher who lived in the 18th century.

He argued that it was impossible to demonstrate any truth through induction.

Induction cannot prove the truth of any proposition.

 

Here is Bertrand Russell's conclusion on the subject in the "History of Western Philosophy".

The problem of induction by simple enumeration remains unsolved to this day……The situation is profoundly unsatisfactory, but neither Bacon nor any of his successors have found a way out of it.

Put a little more bluntly, a proposition demonstrated by induction is always a guess. It may be a very good guess, but it is a guess. Bertrand Russell didn't like it. He didn't like it. So he just put the problem to one side and carried on as if everything was ok. So did David Hume.