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hume vs. Induction

David Hume, a skeptical empiricist, in other words someone who only certain accepts things as fact with empirical evidence, tries to ask and answer epistemological questions in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In other words, Hume inquires into questions of knowing, or how we know what we know. In his distinction between matters of fact and relations of ideas, we see that Hume sees a challenge to inductive knowledge as our means of knowing. In deductive logic, one argues from a general rule. In inductive logic, the opposite occurs because one reasons to a general rule. Inductive logic begins with reason and tries to deduce a general rule from it.

For example, we walk into a room and see Socrates at a table with a bag on it and do not know what is in the bag. We reach into the bag and pull out a handful of white beans. We reach in a second time and stir up the contents before pulling out another handful of all white beans. We repeat this. After repeating this several times and pulling out several more handfuls of all white beans, we reasonable infer that the white beans represent some kind of specific case of a more general rule, i.e. all the beans in the bag are white. The syllogism for the above example of inductive reasoning would appear as follows:

These beans from this bag are white (specific case)

These beans are white. (conclusion drawn)

All the beans in the bag are white (general rule)

Inductive logic is designed to test a general rule (or hypothesis) through experiment. If repeated actions all have the same outcome, we can assume similar actions under similar circumstances will conform to the general rule. This kind of logic is never certain, for on the very next handful pulled from the bag of beans, we might draw a black bean nullifying the general rule. Hume believed in two kinds of reasoning, demonstrative and probable. Inductive reasoning is demonstrative reasoning. Hume believed th...

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hume vs. Induction. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:18, April 13, 2024, from