Free Thinker Posted September 21, 2005 Report Share Posted September 21, 2005 (edited) Here is an email I wrote to my philosophy prof. Please leave your thoughts. (Keep in mind it is still under construction; and the specific formating I did in Word didn't transfer over). Deduction (at best) is the Handmaiden of Induction Case against Deduction Deduction is bogus. Why? The reason (psycho-epistemologically speaking) why deduction continued to bother me is that it has no referent in reality! It is like a flashlight that has to be continuously recharged; without which is just a stick of plastic and glass. It is a pointless science. The reason why deduction says "is the premises are true, the conclusion MUST be true" is an aribitrary choice. The converse could have been chosen as the standard, and the rest of the rules would logically follow from that. To illustrate this, take the following argument (I may have already used it, but it is a good one): Argument I- P1 - All dogs are fish. P2 - All Fish live on land. C- Therefore, all dogs live on land. This argument is valid, in the same respect that this is valid: Argument II - P1 - All dogs are animals. P2 - All animals need food. C - All dogs need food. There is NO difference in validity between the I and II. NONE! We only accept I because we know its P1 and 2 are true. Truth is simply another plaything in Deduction. It, at best, is the handmaiden of induction. Case for Induction The main charge against Induction is, “At best, Induction creates probabilities, or a likelihood”. This is completely and unequivocally false. Why? We as humans can only base our conclusions on what we know. What does that mean? It means that we as humans operate on our context of knowledge – the sum total of all the knowledge that is possible to us. The word all is important – it means we cannot know of something, until we know of it. To illustrate this, take the often used example of “the world is flat”. Suppose we created a time machine that could take us back to the Middle Ages (ie. when the theory of “world flatism” was in prominence). The catch is, however, that in doing so, we would lose all of the knowledge that mankind has accumulated from then up until now. We (reluctantly) agree to do so, and we enter the machine. A few seconds later we appear in the Middle Ages. We find ourselves in a church, where there are some people talking about the latest ideas of the day. The most popular idea, the idea that everyone agrees on (except a few radicals, but they are probably a bunch of hedonist atheists anyway) that the world is flat. What evidence are they resting on? In other words, what evidence are they using? Perhaps they say that ships who dare try sailing past “the edge of the world” have not be able to (have died trying); for the simple fact that no one has tried and/or tried and returned. “Okay”, you say, “that seems to make sense”. After all, you are tabula rasa, and until you hear evidence which contradicts that, that principle is true. (Assume you have never heard of the contrary arguments which did in fact exist at that time). The next day you wake up and go and try and explore some more. This time, however, you hear some arguments which seem to refute “world-flatism”. Perhaps you hear the argument about the moon’s cycles, or of ships disappearing, then reappearing on the horizon, etc. This all seems to make sense, but as you are trying to digest all of this a boy runs into the church screaming, “Magellan has just returned from his voyage across the world, and boy were we wrong!”. This, to you, seems like undeniable proof that the world is round. If the world was flat, then Magellan, in order to complete his voyage, would have to stop at “the edge”, turn around, and come back. Clearly that wasn’t the case. Now that your context of knowledge has expanded, your conclusions may or may not change. You don’t start with a theory (out of now where) and try to validate it. It was just the opposite. What is the nature of the fallacy that opponents of induction claim? They say that because a conclusion may change, we must somehow account for it. How? We can never say, they reason, that we know 100% about anything. We can only say 99%, or even 99.99999999%. But never 100%. This is wrong, wrong , wrong. Let us follow this thinking. Suppose we wanted to account for the chance we are wrong. Basic probability says that the total possible outcomes of an event and each of their likelihoods must equal the total, or 1. In other words: Event of A - A% Event of non-A – non-A% Total possibility (or possibility of something happening) – A% + non-A% (ie. the probability of A + the probability of any non A event) which must equal 100% (something must happen). The problem? There is no way of applying that law to knowledge. Why? There is no knowledge of non-A’s existence (until we know of it – at which point there can be no legitimate distinction between A and non A. A would = non A (which is A))! Ergo, there is no way of calculating the probability of non-A’s occurrence! Edited November 19, 2005 by softwareNerd Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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