PHL A10 - Exercise IX
1. What is the difference between "knowledge skepticism" and "rational belief" skepticism?
Knowledge skepticism about a domain of potential belief D is the view that there is no knowledge of the
propositions in D, but there may be some justification for believing some rather than others or for believing som e
to be more probable than others. Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism, sometimes referred to as skeptical
inquiry, is a scientific or practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking
2. Explain the difference between deduction and induction.
Induction involves taking the description of some sample and extending that description to items outside the
sample. Induction is the process of reasoning in which the premises of an argument are believed to support the
conclusion but do not ensure it. Deduction is a method of reasoning in which one chooses the hypothesis that
would, if true, best explain the relevant evidence. Abductive reasoning starts from a set of accepted fa cts and
infers to their most likely, or best, explanations.
3. What is the principle of the uniformity of nature?
The principle of the uniformity of nature is used to justify both inductive reason generally and scientific research
in particular. It can be understood as simply arguing "the future will look l ike the past." Thus, however nature has
acted in the past is pretty much how we can expect it to act in the future. Science relies heavily upon this premise
of uniformity because, without it, it would not be possible to infer from past events what we can expect to happen
in the future.
4. Outline the problem that Hume sees with inductive arguments.
The factors that affect the strength of inductive arguments are sample size and representative or unbiased nature
of the sample. A larger sample size increases the strength of the inference because the results do not represent the
entire population. To avoid bias, randomization can be used. The addition of new premises can increase or
decrease the inductive strength of an argument.
5. What problem does Sober see in Hume's attempt to use the PUN?
Scientific prediction and scientific theorizing would simply not be possible without uniformity. More generally,
induction itself relies upon uniformity because that is what allows us to take particular cases and infer from them
general rules and principles. However, if induction relies upon the uniformity of nature, then the uniformity of
nature cannot itself rely upon inductive reasoning.
6. Define 'high reliability' for a method of inference.
Philosophical skepticism refers to a critical attitude, which systematically questions the notion that absolute
knowledge and certainty are possible; either in general or in particular fields. Philosophical skepticism raises
propositions about the limitations of knowledge, obtaining knowledge through doubt and continual testing,
arbitrariness, relativity, or subjectivity of moral values, intellectual caution and suspended judgment, and lack of
confidence in positive motives for human conduct.