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26369Re: [evol-psych] Re: Scientific justifications

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  • Jeremy Bowman
    Aug 4, 2003
      It was written:

      > > > If H is true then I is true
      > > > I is true
      > > > Therefore H is true

      I replied:

      > > The "argument" above is only
      > > fallacious if we understand it
      > > as a deductive argument. But
      > > we MUST NOT understand it
      > > that way. In a valid deductive
      > > argument the word 'therefore'
      > > expresses the fact that the
      > > premises GUARANTEE the
      > > conclusion, but here the
      > > "premises" just give us a
      > > stronger reason to believe that
      > > the "conclusion" is true.

      Steven D'Aprano wrote:

      > However, your argument that this
      > reasoning is valid for inductive
      > arguments isn't correct.

      Me again:

      -- I didn't say this was an "inductive argument", and don't think we should
      understand it like that.

      First, I recommend that we reserve the word 'induction' for simple
      "enumerative" induction ("the sun has risen every day so far, so it'll
      probably rise again tomorrow"). I agree with Quine's view that enumerative
      induction is a special case of the more general method of hypothesis (i.e.
      the "hypothetico-deductive method").

      Second, I think it's wrong to think of the above sequence as an "argument".
      It is much better understood as a sort of DESCRIPTION of what happens when
      a hypothesis is "confirmed".

      Compare the following sequence of sentences, which describe a test to see
      if a cake is fully cooked:

      1. Push a metal skewer into the thickest part of the cake, withdraw it, and
      see if it is "clean".
      2. It is clean.
      Therefore, the cake is done.

      There is no temptation to think of this sequence of sentences as an
      argument, probably because the "premises" do not contain the key
      information expressed in the "conclusion", about the cake's "being done".
      But it's easy to see how the test works -- it would be an "unlikely
      coincidence" if the cake passed the test, and yet somehow remained
      underdone. We would have to fall back on unusual circumstances to explain
      it -- perhaps the oven does not heat evenly, or the thickest part of the
      cake does not coincide with the point furthest away from the heat source,

      Similarly, if a hypothesis yields a prediction that turns out to be true,
      and then does it again, and again, it becomes harder and harder to explain
      how the hypothesis itself could be false. Passing a test is an "unlikely
      coincidence" unless the hypothesis is in fact true, or at least
      approximately true.

      Jeremy Bowman

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