The problem of induction

I am very interested in the questions “What questions can we answer?” and “How do we go about answering these questions?”

Recently I thought I had simmered it down to just one question: “What would happen if I did this?” The method: “Try it and see.”

Of course here I am articulating the question and method in a rather flippant manner.

The more appropriate (let us say) articulation of the question would be: “If this set of conditions were to arise what set of conditions would follow?”.

The method would be the empirical scientific method.

More recently I have realized that all this method gives us is a history of what has happened when certain conditions were met in the past.

The process of experimentation flows so rapidly from the present to the past that it only tells of what has gone before.

The information we avail ourselves of via the scientific method furnishes us with a history upon the basis of which we make a bet. The probability of this bet paying up in the future approaches – but never reaches – certainty the more times it has occurred in the past.

This is nothing but Hume’s problem of induction. It delimits the realms within which science can operate.


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