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Chapter 5

PHI 1101 P - Chapter 5.docx

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Iva Apostolova

Inductive Reasoning (Chapter 5) I. The nature of inductive reasoning. Inductive arguments, unlike deductive arguments, do not guarantee (the truth of) their conclusions. So, the strength of inductive arguments does not come from their structure, as is the case with deductive arguments. The premises provide probable truth for the conclusion. Inductive arguments, then, can never be sound arguments. Inductive arguments can be weak or strong. Inductive reasoning extrapolates on what we know, using our current knowledge to arrive at conclusions which are not deductively implied by the premises. In other words, inductive reasoning allows us to arrive at genuinely new knowledge. • The new knowledge comes at a cost: certainty. • Certainty in inductive reasoning is achieved empirically (through experience). • Inductive reasoning rests on the assumption that nature is uniform. What does that mean? • The uniformity of nature: all events in nature conform to generalizations (e.g., physical laws) that can be verified directly or indirectly via observation. • Uniformity of nature is understood temporally (the future will resemble the past) and laterally (across different phenomena in the same time frame). • This assumption is useful to us, even though it’s not always accurate. II. Types of inductive arguments: 1. Arguments by analogy. • Probably the most creative inductive argument. • The use of analogies: we learn about something new by comparing it to something we are already familiar with. • Widely used, from everyday life to legal practices. • E.g., consider the analogy between baseball and the legal system of penalty: “three strikes out”. • When we make an analogy we compare two things/phenomena which are similar in more than one way. • If the similarities are relevant and a sufficient number, we have a case of strong analogy where the analogy provides support for the conclusion. • The parts of analogy (you don’t have to know them!): • Subject case: that about which we are drawing the conclusion in the analogical argument. The subject case is always to be found in the conclusion. • Analogous case: That with which we are familiar with and which we use to make the analogy. • Target feature: The feature of the subject case. • To evaluate whether an analogy is a strong or a weak one, we have to compare the number of relevant similarities and the number of relevant dissimilarities • If the relevant dissimilarities outnumber the similarities, then the analogy is weak. • Also, a weak analogy will be an analogy whose similarities and dissimilarities are irrelevant (trivial) ones. • Few examples: • 1. William Paley’s (1743-1805) watch analogy: • The universe (subject case) is a complex system (target feature) like a watch (analogous case). We wouldn’t think a watch can come out of accident. Something so complicated must have been created by someone. The universe is a lot more complicated than the watch, so it must have been created by a being who is a lot more intelligent than us. • Analyse. • List of Similarities: • 1. The universe and the watch are both complex entities • 2. The universe and the watch have parts that function to fulfill the purpose of what they are a part of. • 3. The existence of a watch implies a watchmaker who created it; the existence of the universe implies a universe-maker (God) who created it. • List of dissimilarities: • 1. One very important difference between the universe and the watch, often used as a criticism against the argument (by David Hume and Richard Dawkins), is that the universe could have come into the existence merely by natural processes, while the watch could not have. • 2.Adefense of abortion • Human fetus (subject case) is to a grown-up person as acorn (analogue case) is to an oak tree, they are both early forms of living organisms and they both are fully dependent upon the mature organism (target feature). Therefore, aborting a fetus is no different from destroying an acorn, there is always a new one coming to replace it. • List of similarities: • 1. Fetus/mature human being - acorn/oak tree – are all living organisms. • 2. The fetus and the acorn are both early forms of the respective organisms. • 3. The existence of the mature organisms depends upon the growth and development of the earlier forms. • 3. Both fetus and acorn can be destroyed by poor nutrition, lack of nurturance, or other means. • List of dissimilarities: • 1. The fetus grows inside the mother’s body while the acorn grows from the oak tree. • 2. The time it takes to develop is different. • 3. Quantity: the acorn tree produces a lot more acorns than a human being. • 4. Society values human fetus more than it does trees. • 5. The fetus is fully dependent upon the mother for its survival while the acorn has no such dependent upon the oak tree. • 3.Adefense of euthanasia • Awell-known moral principle is that one is morally justified in using deadly force in self-defence (analogous case) when one is threatened with death or great pain from an assailant (target features). Adisease such as terminal cancer can also threaten one with death or great pain. So, suicide – a use of deadly force – (subject case) must sometimes be morally justified when it is an act of self-defence against an assailant (terminal disease) that threatens with death or great pain. • List of similarities: • 1. Being threatened with death in both cases. • 2. Being threatened with great pain which can be debilitating or dehumanizing in both cases. • 3. If we agree that both cases are cases of self-defence, then we can apply the same principle of moral permissibility. • List of dissimilarities: • 1. Suicide/assisted suicide are not quite the same as killing another human being in self-defence. • 2. Suicide and attempted suicide are two different things. 2. Inductive generalization. • It has the following form (which you don’t need to know!): • X% of the observed Fs are G • it is probable, therefore, that X% of all Fs are G • We generalize a sample group to the target population. We then infer that what was true of the sample group that also is true for the target population. • Criteria: the sample has to be representative and large enough. • Ex: 45% of men polled outside of Walmart in South Keys thought that Stephen Harper is doing a good job as a Prime Minister. Therefore, it is probable that 45% of all Ottawa men think that Stephen Harper is doing a good job as a Prime Minister. (bad sample, defines only certain demographic) • Ex: Five hundred of the two thousand Ottawa Public Library cardholders were randomly selected and asked whether they prefer fiction or non-fiction. Three hundred and fifty-eight said they prefer fiction. Thus, you can bet that most of the OPL cardholders prefer fiction. (good sample, “randomly”) • Ex:ACBC poll conducted in March 2003 con
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