Provide your own clear exposition of Hume’s statement of the problem of induction. How serious is the problem?
David Hume’s problem of induction is one which has pervaded philosophical thinking since its emergence in the eighteenth century. The following essay will clearly and carefully explain Hume’s statement of this problem in his work titled An enquiry concerning human understanding (ed. Cottingham, 1996). Further, it will examine the seriousness of the problem and its implications for not only the field of science, however also individuals who sincerely insist on accepting its ideas.
So, then, what is induction, exactly? Induction is, simply, making an inference from the observed to the unobserved. For instance, one may infer that the sun will rise tomorrow morning solely because he has observed that the sun has risen every morning in the past. In other words, experience of the sun rising every morning in the past assumedly provides one with knowledge of causal relations (specifically, the earth’s rotation on its axis as it goes around the sun causes the effect of the sun rising each morning). To use another example, one may infer from the proposition that “all bodies of water that have been observed are wet” to the conclusion that “all bodies of water are wet”. So, then, the question remains: Is one entitled to hold such beliefs based on induction?
Hume holds that one has no reason whatsoever to make inferences from the observed to the unobserved, and the objective of Section IV of his paper, titled ‘The problem of induction’ (ed. Cottingham, 1996), is to explain and defend this position. As already illustrated, the problem of induction simply amounts to whether inductive reasoning provides one with a valid argument for inferring one event on the basis of another. Namely, is there justification for either: 1) presupposing that a sequence of events in the future will occur as it always has in the past?; or, 2) generalising about the properties of a...