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Using the past as a guide to the
       Why is this a problem in
• David Hume – flagged this up in Treatise
  Concerning Human Nature
• Problem – the future is not available to
  sensory perception and therefore it cannot
  be known.
• Sensory perception allows empirical /
  scientific testing to provide empirical
  knowledge. Hume was an empiricist.
 Hume asked – Why do we accept
       such knowledge?
1. Such knowledge has no empirical basis
   and is therefore unreliable. It should
   never be trusted. It is not knowledge.
2. We think it is knowledge because of
   ‘Custom and Habit’. We are so used to
   things occurring in particular ways that
   we believe they will always occur in such
   a manner.
Karl Popper –Objective Knowledge
Splits the problem into 2
1. Psychological Question – How is it
   possible for us to form such beliefs in the
   first place?
2. Epistemological Question – Can such
   beliefs ever be justified?
He evaluates these 2 questions by
• No they can never be justified but if
  something has occurred time without
  number then you can use this knowledge
  until you falsify it.
• Falsification: If any piece of knowledge
  fails to be true even once it must be
  disregarded. It is not truth. It has no
  epistemological value!
           Bertrand Russell
Like Popper and Hume calls himself an
Decided that you could retain beliefs which
  worked and that hung together in a
  Coherent Belief System.
But remember we once thought it true that
  the world was flat! People died for daring
  to say otherwise.
  A J Ayer – Language, Truth and
Ayer says Induction is a problem that cannot
 be solved. He is correct in this.
He goes further and says because there can
 be no answer it is meaningless to question
 induction. He says it is as bad as stating
 that your body is pointed in the direction of
 its own ignorance!
Do we actually need Induction?
• Science uses Induction all the time to
  formulate hypotheses.
• We need Induction all the time to move
  forward in our lives with any degree of
  confidence – we trust natural laws – the
  pavement is solid beneath our feet.
• Therefore to claim to be an empiricist and
  say that Induction is of no use is
• To be a lay person and say that Induction
  is no use would leave you unable to trust
  yourself to move forward in any direction
  or sphere of your life.
• Induction is a useful tool which should not
  be disregarded because it cannot be
  proven 100% of the time.
                Essay tips
• Remember to begin with a definition of
• David Hume has to be mentioned first and
  then you have a choice unless the
  question stipulates about whom you write.
• You should be able to state the title of their
  books and give a quote. There is no
  excuse on this as it is in your notes.
• Remember to evaluate each philosopher
  against his own opinion – where are the
  holes in his argument?
• Then say why we need induction and
  perhaps decide that only Popper truly
  suggests a way in which we can move
• Conclusion – has to agree that Induction is
  a problem but not one that should hold us
  back for the reasons you have given
     Possible examples – real or
• We thought all swans were white until
  someone went to Perth in Australia and
  saw black ones.
• Nelson Goodman – Grue (all emeralds
  found are green but after a particular year
  (set in the future) – all emeralds found will
  be blue, therefore we should now refer to
  all possible as well as real ones as Grue.)

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