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Hume’s Experience Versus Peirce’s Originality Essay

1570 words - 7 pages

Most individuals tend to base their understanding of the world solely on what they know; however they acquire this knowledge mostly through experience which can be deemed as problematic by different philosophers. The debate regarding knowledge through experience tends to revolve around philosophers who view experience as a limiting form of knowledge, in contrast to other philosophers who view experience as a stepping stone to acquiring the accuracy and credibility of a particular idea. David Hume and Charles Peirce are two philosophers whose ideas of reasoning fall within this debate. David Hume is a philosopher who believes that individuals naturally reason inductively; which is, using ...view middle of the document...

As creatures of habit, we tend to rely on what we think we know to interpret things; however Hume argues that if inductive reasoning is a valid form of reasoning then we can expect the future to be like the past. The problem with this is that, regardless of the amount of observations made in the past, there will always be an uncertainty of what will commence in the future. Even though everyday you walk by a dog, whistle at it and it barks; there is no way of telling that the next time you walk by a dog and whistle it will bark. Hume’s outlines the problem of inductive reasoning to the nature of cause and effect; the assumption individuals have in regards to the connection of particular events. He states “the nature of all our reasoning concerning matter of fact is cause and effect, and all our reasoning and conclusion concerning that relation is experience”. In order words, Hume is suggesting that inductive reasoning is problematic because our idea of what is true comes from our notion of cause and effect which comes from experience. That is, we believe all dogs bark when they hear a whistle because our experience has lead us to the conclusion that dogs bark when they hear a whistle. Hume’s although very persuasive in the sense that as individuals, we know that we cannot predict the future and therefore justify our claim that one event will always occur in relation to another; our past experience to our present experience gives us reason and justification to come to the conclusion that overtime, there are things that do remain the same.

Hume suggests that there is no rational case for inductive reasoning being correct. This is interesting because Peirce uses this to his advantage when he presents his concept of abduction. A major difference between induction and abduction is probability. In other words, with inductive reasoning we see that experience tends to lead to a specific conclusion; however with abduction, a consideration of what probably happened is taken into account, which makes it reversible. For instance, with inductive reasoning, we concluded that every time a dog is whistled at it will bark; however with abduction, dogs could bark because they heard a loud noise and a whistle is a loud noise or because someone walked by. With abductive reasoning, there is room for more testing to derive more conclusions that best explains a certain situation. Piece’s abduction seems to stem from the idea of things we think are true but still need to prove is true. He states “the first starting of a hypothesis and the entertaining of it, whether as a simple interrogation or with any degree of confidence, is an inferential step which I propose to call abduction” abductive reasoning unlike inductive reasoning is more guaranteed to change if it can be proved false. For example, in this society, our ideas of certain races are based on stereotypes. We tend to say things like “ Asians cannot drive or Blacks cannot swim because our experience has lead...

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