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The Abandoning Of Induction In Favor Of Deduction And Falsification

1380 words - 6 pages


A significant function of science, and of everyday thinking, is to make sense of available information. Induction is the process of going from the specific to the general thereby reaching a conclusion about the complex nature of the universe from a , thus far, limited set of observations. A person uses a collection of evidence, gained through experience, and uses it to form a conclusion which is conceived to be conform with the given facts. This means the observations may be true, but because of the given limitation of observation the conclusion could still be proven false. David Hume has identified this problem of induction and deems it therefore as logically unjustifiable. It is, however, the primary form of reasoning in science and is used to attain inferences which the scientific community believes to be the most likely form of the observed phenomena in question within a current paradigm. Induction has established itself as an effective method in the natural sciences and is imperative for scientific advancement.

A classic example of an inductive reasoning process is the fact that, so far, unless one is experiencing a polar night, it has been observed that the sun rises each day in the East. Therefore we can generalize that the sun always rises each day in the East. On the other side of the reasoning process is a concept known as deduction. Which uses scientific laws as a premise to form a new claim. If we take as a premise that the sun always rises each morning in the East, then scientists can safely deduce that the sun will rise tomorrow morning in the East. For a deduction to be valid, the premises have to be true in order for the conclusion to be true. In order to use induction to reach a valid conclusion one needs the premises to be true but when can a premise be deemed as “true enough” such a the sun rising every day? In the sun example empirical evidence lends credibility to the premise of the sun rising.
The use of empirical evidence to justify conclusions obtained by induction can cause misconceptions in natural sciences, such as in two exampled from mathematics and chemistry, where it led to to short term empirical regularities, which in turn were used for a false inductive statement or theory. In September 1777 the french chemist Antoine Lavoisier created the word „oxygen“, derived from Latin in which it means „acid maker“, because he found so many examples of acids containing oxygen that he believed he had discovered a new law about the fabrication of acids. This inductive reasoning process proved to false, since many of the „Lewis acids“, such as Boron triflouride, do in fact not contain oxygen (Early Acid Base History). A mathematical example for such failure would be Pierre de Fermats claim of 22n+1 equaling a prime number. Short term operations of this lead to correct equations as n=1 leads to the prime number 5, n=2 to 7. This claim holds true for „n“ being smaller than 32. However if n=32 the...

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