Guide Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought

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According to logical positivists, universal scientific propositions are true according to whether they have been verified by empirical tests -- yet no finite number of empirical tests can ever guarantee the truth of universal statements Black, ; Brown, ; Chalmers, In short, inductive inference can never be justified on purely logical grounds Hempel As a result of these difficulties, Carnap , developed a more moderate version of positivism, which has come to be known as logical empiricism which became the "received view" in the philosophy of science for approximately next 20 years Suppe Logical Empiricism Essentially, Carnap replaced the concept of verification with the idea of "gradually increasing confirmation" , p.

He argued that if verification is taken to mean the "complete and definitive establishment of truth," then universal statements can never be verified. However, they may be "confirmed" by the accumulation of successful empirical tests. Thus, science progresses through the accumulation of multiple confirming instances obtained under a wide variety of circumstances and conditions.

Scientific Method

Logical empiricists believe that all knowledge begins with observation. This leads to empirical generalizations among observable entities. As our ideas progress, theories are formulated deductively to explain the generalizations, and new evidence is required to confirm or disconfirm the theories. Throughout the process, data are given precedence. Indeed, the entire process is viewed as essentially an inductive one.

Induction and Scientific Reasoning

Science in general and knowledge in particular are believed to occur in an upward fashion: from data to theory to understanding Bagozzi, Feigl p. Logical empiricism is characterized by the inductive statistical method.

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In this view, science begins with observation, and its theories are ultimately justified by the accumulation of further observations, which provide probabilistic support for its conclusion. Of course, the logical empiricist's use of a probabilistic linkage between the explanans and the explanandum does not avoid the problem of induction. It remains to be shown how a finite number of observations can lead to the logical conclusion that a universal statement is "probably true" Black, Moreover, attempts to justify induction on the basis of experience are necessary circular.

The argument that induction has worked successfully in the past is itself an inductive argument and cannot be used to support the principle of induction Chalmers, In addition to the problem of induction, logical empiricism encounters further difficulties because of its insistence that science rests on a secure observational base. There are at least two problems here Anderson, The first is that observations are always subject to measurement error.

The second, and perhaps more significant, problem concerns the theory dependence of observation. We have discussed some aspects of this issue under the section on Knowledge and Objectivity. The fact that observation is theory laden does not, by itself, refute the logical empiricist position.

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It does, however, call into question the claim that science is securely anchored by the objective observation of "reality. Popper And Falsificationism Unlike positivists, Popper accepted the fact that "observation always presupposes the existence of some system of expectations" p. For Popper, the scientific process begins when observations clash with existing theories or preconceptions.

To solve this scientific problem, a theory is proposed and the logical consequences of the theory hypotheses are subjected to rigorous empirical tests. The objective of testing is the refutation of the hypothesis. When a theory's predictions are falsified, it is to be ruthlessly rejected. Those theories that survive falsification are said to be corroborated and tentatively accepted Anderson, In contrast to the gradually increasing confirmation of induction, falsificationism substitutes the logical necessity of deduction.

The Scientist's World

Popper exploits the fact that a universal hypothesis can be falsified by a single negative instance Chalmers, In Popper's approach, if the deductively derived hypotheses are shown to be false, the theory itself is taken to be false. Thus the problem of induction is seemingly avoided by denying that science rests on inductive inference. Anderson notes that Popper's notion of corroboration itself depends on an inductive inference. According to falsificationism, then, science progresses by a process of "conjectures and refutations" Popper , p.

In this perspective, the objective of science is to solve problems. Despite the apparent conformity of much scientific practice with the falsificationist account, serious problems remain with Popper's version of the scientific method. For example, Duhem has noted that it is impossible to conclusively refute a theory because realistic test situations depend on much more than just the theory that is under investigation. Quine-Duhem thesis Quine, ; Duhem, points out that because of all of the background assumptions that might be wrong -- flaws in the equipment, the effects of unknown or wrongly disregarded physical processes, and the like -- any outcome can be rationally distrusted and explained away by ad hoc hypotheses that alter the background assumptions.

Falsification can thus be regarded as particularly equivocal Cook and Campbell, The recognition that established theories often resist refutation by anomalies while new theories frequently progress despite their empirical failures, led a number of writers in the s to challenge the positivistic views of Popper and the logical empiricists Suppe Various philosophers and historians noted that scientific practice is often governed by a conceptual framework or world view that is highly resistant to change.

In particular, Kuhn pointed out that the established framework is rarely, if ever, overturned by a single anomaly Kuhn's model helped to initiate a new approach in the philosophy of science in which emphasis is placed on the conceptual frameworks that guide research activities. Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions Central to the Kuhnian argument is the concept of a "paradigm.

The paradigm will include a number of specific theories which depend, in part, on the shared metaphysical beliefs of the community Kuhn, In Kuhn's view, the individual scientist's decision to pursue a new paradigm must be made on faith in its "future promise" Kuhn p.

Furthermore, in his view, science progresses through "paradigm shifts," but there is no guarantee that it progresses toward anything -- least of all toward "the truth" Kuhn , p. Given its seeming advocacy of relativism, Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions became one of the most carefully analyzed and evaluated works in the philosophy of science. Here we briefly explain Laudan's "research tradition" concept, which attempts to restore rationality to theory selection by expanding the concept of rationality itself. Research Traditions Like Kuhn and Lakatos, Laudan sees science operating within a conceptual framework that he calls a research tradition Anderson, The research tradition consists of a number of specific theories, along with a set of metaphysical and conceptual assumptions that are shared by those scientists who adhere to the tradition.

A major function of the research tradition is to provide a set of methodological and philosophical guidelines for the further development of the tradition Anderson, Following both Kuhn and Popper, Laudan argues that the objective of science is to solve problems -- that is to provide "acceptable answers to interesting questions" Laudan, , p. On this view, the "truth" or "falsity" of a theory is irrelevant as an appraisal criterion. The key question is whether the theory offers an explanation for problems that arise when we encounter something in the natural or social environment which clashes with our preconceived notions or which is otherwise in need of explanation Anderson, Critical Relativism Critical relativism is a multifaceted philosophy of science: one of its major assertions is that there exists no single "scientific method.

Moreover, critical relativism recognizes that knowledge production in the social sciences is impacted by the broader cultural milieu in which it is embedded Anderson, Critical relativism is skeptical of all claims to scientific knowledge because it recognizes that there are multiple scientific objectives and alternative methods for attaining these objectives Laudan, Moreover, critical relativism recognizes that the value of such claims must be assessed in light of their unique modes of production and their methods of justification.

To suggest that the hallmark of scientific knowledge is its empirical testability is to settle for far less than we should demand of such an important enterprise as science. Anderson further argued that the requirement of empirical testability is notoriously ambiguous within the recognized sciences, and it is a criterion that is allegedly met by patently "nonscientific" disciplines Laudan, The sufficiency, framing, and selection problems could prevent us from perceiving a sufficient set of stable and essentially similar observations to feed to induction.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

The greater the number of classificatory categories introduced, the less explanatory power each has, and the more complex and fragmented the scientific body of knowledge becomes. Neither induction from 26 Ibid. How they are posited, their ontology, is perhaps more a function of their utility for solving a particular problem rather than a necessary ontological scheme.

A banana is at one time green, then yellow, then brown. A butterfly starts as an egg, develops into a larva, and then a pupa, before it becomes an adult. Referring again to the selection problem, which properties are essential, and which contingent? At which precise point do basic truths applicable to members of a butterfly larva class no longer apply as a larva develops into a pupa? Which basic truths could be applicable in the metamorphosis between classes? If science cannot demonstrate a property in a mutable temporal object, how could it be used to make successful predictions?

Although Aristotle mentions experiments, his notion of them is more consistent with naturalistic observation than modern experimentation. The idea of a well-controlled experiment is conspicuously missing in his method. Thus, for him, the discrimination shortcoming does not arise, as his method does not actively manipulate variables to elicit a result. A future observation may appear to contradict an assumed fundamental principle, but Aristotle does not specify what to do next to decisively test this by experiment and provide additional data for induction.

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That all observations up to the current date have shown only black crows would plausibly lead to the inductive inference that all crows are black, but why ought that interpretation to be adopted rather than that all healthy crows have wings? Thus, induction can succumb to the reliability problem. What we are left with is a largely passive, observational, inductive and deductive method that may achieve some inductive successes based on easily accessible observations, but could never hope to efficiently amass a deep body of systematic scientific knowledge.

It resembles Euclidean proofs. Once axioms are identified and definitions made, all scientific knowledge can, in principle, be deduced and demonstrated through syllogistic reasoning, assuming that nature is both universal and logical, not to mention hierarchical. It is portentous that Aristotle often fails to articulate his own scientific arguments in syllogistic form.

But what is indefinite and vague in observation is deceiving and unreliable as information. We are to derive axioms from data, and then use the axioms to derive new experiments, proceeding iteratively to develop a systematic body of scientific knowledge. There are only four steps 1. Compile a sufficient natural and experimental history of the phenomenon under investigation; 2. Organize it using tables, specifically in the: a. Table of Existence and Presence: to show diverse instances where the phenomenon is present. Table of Deviation or Absence in Proximity: to show instances similar to those in the previous table where the phenomenon is absent. Table of Comparative Instances: to show instances where the phenomenon is attenuated. Document rejected natures in a Table of Exclusions. II: X. I: CV. II: XV. II: XIX. II: XVI. I: LI. I: CIV. While conceptually appealing because it would partially address the error and correction problem but fail to account for how inductive error is possible , it is difficult to see how an axiom would lead, either deductively or inductively, to additional experiments without a significant explanatory gap likely involving imagination and intuition.

More troubling is that although Bacon speaks of weighing and measuring, he offers no hint of either when applying his method to the investigation of heat. This could yield practical results, but it would lack the precision that we expect from mathematics.

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  4. Induction cannot justify the generalizations that it produces, except by appeal to the results that such generalizations successfully predict, but if the results are vaguely specified, the justificatory legitimacy of axioms could easily be called into question, especially when underdetermination challenges arise that cannot be settled by decisive experiments. II: CV. II: XI. And even apparent inductive success is jeopardized by the Gettier problem, which could not only lead to experiments whose results cannot be reproduced but fail to offer any explanation.