exam_review_-_HUME - Hume The problem of induction - - - -...

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Hume The problem of induction - Hume makes distinctions between relations of ideas or demonstrative reasoning and matters of fact or moral reasoning . - Relations of ideas comprising truths such as 2 plus 2 equals 4 and all triangles are 3 sided, truths which can be conclusively demonstrated, since they follow logically from the definitions of the terms involved. - Matters of fact provides information about what actually happens in the world, where the relevant propositions are based not on demonstrative reasoning but on observation and experience. - Hume explains how experience can only assure us of what we are actually observing at the present, or can remember having observed in the past and since the ultimate causes of the phenomena we observe are beyond the reach of human inquiry we have no means of knowing that future instances will conform to our past experience. - By using methods of induction they may be able to generalize from their limited experience of phenomena to universal claims about all phenomena, past, present and future but Hume points out and argues that that this process assumes that future instances will resemble the past. And although our predications may have turned out right before that is no conclusive argument that they will continue to do so. - It is impossible that any arguments from experience can prove the resemblance of the past to the future since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. This has been come to be known as Humes ‘ problem of induction’ – there is no rational, non-circular way for science to proceed from limited date to general conclusions about the behaviour of natural phenomena. - He says that if we be engaged by arguments to put trust in past experience, and make it the standard of our future judgment, these arguments must be
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probable only, or such as regard matter of fact and real existence, according to the division mentioned. - We have said that all arguments concerning existence are founded on the relation of cause and effect; that our knowledge of that relation is derived entirely from experience and that all our experimental conclusion proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past. To endeavour therefore the proof of this last supposition by probable arguments regarding existence, must be evidently going in a circle and taking that for granted which is the very point in question. - All arguments from experience are founded on similarity which we discover among natural objects and by which we are induced to expect effects similar to those which we have found to follow such objects. From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects. This is the sum of our experimental conclusions. Yet this is not the case. Just because things appear to be similar does not mean that they are in fact the same and can therefore not necessarily always produce the same results. -
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PHIL 100 taught by Professor Scott during the Spring '08 term at University of Victoria.

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exam_review_-_HUME - Hume The problem of induction - - - -...

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