Hume's Argument for Skepticism

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Eryn Croft
Professor Chudnoff
PHI 101 Honors
October 9, 2012

Hume’s argument for skepticism about induction states that we can use induction, like causation, to gain knowledge. We must rely on induction to draw conclusions in everyday life because it is the only resource we have to work with. However, we must realize the limitations of induction. Philosopher Karl Popper successfully undermines Hume’s problem of induction by proving that induction is not needed in science and that Hume’s argument is circular.

Karl Popper argued that induction cannot be used in science. He says that induction can never be proven by experimentation. Science instead uses deduction by formulating theories and hypotheses. Science uses the method of conjecture and refutation. Hypotheses can never be proven or verified, but their success can be compared to other hypotheses. The usefulness of a hypothesis can be determined through deduction or predictions. Scientists test theories by making completely falsifiable claims. If there is nothing you can to do disprove the claim then the hypothesis is corroborated. A corroborated theory should not be considered true, merely accepted until better theories are discovered. Popper said that a theory can never be confirmed by observation. Where Hume argues that our theory originates from repetition, Popper argues that theory begins before repetition. Therefore, Popper argued that science does not even use induction.

Karl Popper also argued that inductive reasoning leads to more inductive reasoning, leading to a circular argument. The problem of induction is that induction is creating the problem and “begging the question.” In order to avoid begging the question when using inductive reasoning, you might introduce a new inductive principle. By introducing a new inductive principle, you would have to make justification based on experience, leading to even more inductive reasoning. Hume argues that we need to justify induction, but Popper...
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