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Philosophy of Science - Inductivism I

Inductivism as the popular role model for Science - but is it so?
by

Jose Rodolpho de Oliveira Leo

on 13 January 2014

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Transcript of Philosophy of Science - Inductivism I

Philosophy of Science - An Introduction
"We will start confused. And end up confused, but in a more elevated state."
Proverb

The Perfect world of Science in the eyes of an Inductivist
"Scientific knowledge is proven knowledge. Scientific theories are derived in rigorous manner from experience data gathered by observation and experimentation. Science is based on what we can see, touch, hear, etc. Opinions or personal preferences and speculations don't find room in Science. Science is objective. The scientific knowledge is reliable because it is proven objectively."
Results of the survey

Q.1
Science begins with observation and, the wider the propositions of observation in terms of number and conditions (consider “proposition of observation” each individual experiment, test or experience), safer is the base provided for deriving the universal statement from them.

Q.2
Science is a superior form of human knowledge, for it is based on rigorous method and its arising statements (the laws and principles) are proved.
Q.3
There’s no room for subjectivity in science. It is formal and objective activity: from particular observations, a universal law is drawn. This step is immune to the experimenter’s beliefs, values, education and conditions. The certainty of the process arises from the fact that this law is, then, used for deducing outcomes in similar circumstances.
Q.4
The theory is derived after extensive experimentation (the tests of propositions of observation).
Q.5
Science doesn’t share any common ground with religion, mysticism and common sense, because, contrary to the latter activities, science is based only in rational arguments.
Inductivism
Science begins with observation
By making use of his sensitive organs, the scientist records what he sees, touches, hears, etc.
Singular statements
"The planet Mars was seen in this and this position in the sky on the 1st of May of 1975."
This stick, partially immersed in water, seems bent."
"Mr. Smith hit his wife."
"The litmus paper became red when immersed in the liquid."
How to transform singular statements in universal statements?
Some examples, relative to the previous statements, of what could be part of scientific knowledge
"Planets describe ellipses around the Sun." - Astronomy
"When a light ray goes from one medium to another, its direction of travel is changed in such way that the sine of the incident angle divided by the sine of the refraction angle is a constant characteristics of the pair of media." - Physics
"Animals, in general, have an inherent need of some kind of aggressive freedom." - Psychology
"Acids cause litmus paper to become red." - Chemistry
How to transform singular statements in universal statements - Scientific Laws?
The number of propositions of observation must be high
Observations must be repeated in a sundry of conditions (propositions of observations in a variety of conditions)
No proposition of observation should conflict the universal law derived from general propositions of observation
Inductive reasoning
Inductivism
"If a great number of "A"s were observed under a wide variety of conditions, and if all these "A"s had property "B", then all "A"s have property "B"."
Why is inductivism so alluring?
Induction and Deduction - Some relevant features
1. All books of Philosophy are boring.
2. This is a book of Philosophy.
3. This book is boring.
1. All cats have five legs.
2. Samhein is a cat.
3. Samhein has five legs.
What?
In the eyes of the inductivist...
Scientific truth is not based on logic, but in experience
Objectivity of Science arises from the fact that both, observation and inductive reasoning, are objective by themselves, i.e., no room available for personal, subjective element
Ruining the Perfect World - The problems of inductivism
Is it really possible to justify Inductivism?
"If a great number of "A"s were observed under a wide variety of conditions, and if all these "A"s had property "B", then all "A"s have property "B"."
"X" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"Y" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"W" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"Z" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.

"X" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"Y" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"W" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.
"Z" is a crow and it was black when observed in period p.

LOGIC
"All crows are black!"
"The next crow may not be black."
Ruining the Perfect World - The problems of inductivism
Is it really possible to justify Inductivism?
EMPIRICISM
The principle of induction worked well in occasion x1
The principle of induction worked well in occasion x2
.
.
.
The principle of induction worked well in occasion xn
The principle of induction always performs well.
What does it mean??
This argument is circular. So, it is not valid.
David Hume's answer to the Problem of Induction
Science cannot be justified based on rational arguments
Science is a result of psychological habits
David Hume (1711 - 1776)
Other approaches to the problem of Inductivism
The Retreat to Probability
Inductivists acknowledge the lack of certainty and claim the likelihood of truth for the induction process
Problem with this approach
"If a large number of "A"s were observed under a wide variety of conditions, and if all these "A"s had property "B", then all "A"s are likely to have property "B".
It is still an universal statement
Has the same deficiency of the attempts to justify the original version
From theory of Probability...
Number of evidences: n (limited)
Number of possible situations demanded an universal statement: INFINIT
More problems with Inductivism...
What is a large number of observations?
How do I define the wide variety of circumstances?
What should I consider in my list of variations?
Boiling Point of Water
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