Monday, February 2, 2009

My Solution to the Problem of Induction

Here is an idea I have for solving the problem of induction, which draws upon the thoughts of Karl Popper but also manages to go a little further:

If I drop an object, it will fall. I can do it again and again, dropping the object a million times and watching it fall a million times. But how do I know that the object will drop every time just because it has dropped every time in my experience?

How do I know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning? I formulate a hypothesis that the sun will rise every morning, and I know that it is to be preferred because it is simpler. The reason it is simpler is because it employs fewer assumptions (assuming that the sun always rises is simpler than assuming that the sun occasionally rises and occasionally does not). The reason fewer assumptions are preferred is because, all things being equal, the more assumptions we make the more likely our hypothesis will be wrong (If the assumptions are equal to one another, and each one has, for example, a ten percent chance of being wrong, then obviously the hypothesis with fewer assumptions has a higher chance of being right). This brings us to mathematics and logic, which are self evident and must be accepted in order to even think.

Is my solution successful? You be the judge.


Hambydammit said...

Check out my blog post on science and knowledge... I address the problem of induction in some detail:

Luke said...

This reminds me of Swinburne's argument that the existence of an infinite being is probable because the postulation of a limited thing requires two assumptions (its qualities, and limits on those qualities), whereas postulation of an unlimited thing requires only one assumption (its qualities).

zbyte said...

Luke thats an interesting idea but even an infinite being is limited. Most people who believe in god would agree with the idea that god cannot contradict himself, ie god cannot be both evil and good. Another point is we know that we exist (if we don't then lets just not go any further) so making the assumption that there is an unlimited being, even if it is only define by its qualities, is still an additional assumption.