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Assess popper's treatment of the problem of induction

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Introduction

Assess popper's treatment of the problem of induction Sir Karl Popper 1902-1994 is seen as the most important and profound philosopher of science since Francis Bacon in the 16th and 17th century. He was born in Vienna in 1902, but moved to England in 1946 to become a Professor of logic and scientific method at LSE for 23 years. Popper wanted to solve the puzzle of scientific method; the problem of induction expressed earlier by the philosopher David Hume. In this forthcoming essay I intend to proceed by highlighting the original problem of induction, breaking it down into its two major components, but concentrating solely on that which Popper found most contradicting i.e. OTU induction. I will then illustrate how Popper criticises the inductive process and offer to the reader Popper's solution to it. After identifying the problem, I will then go on to set out Popper's very own deductive theoretical solution, that of falsification. I shall provide a rounded argument for and against falsification taking into account criticisms of it and support for it. To conclude I shall provide the reader with, for all its worth, my own stance on the problem of induction, that is, if after examination I believe there to be one. ...read more.

Middle

One can only be sure of what has happened in the past or what is happening in the present, not what might, could or should happen in the future. Popper denies scientists two crucial aspects of what was believed to be the process of their experimental practices. Popper claims that scientists do not start without any prejudices or preconceived thoughts, they impose their beliefs, opinions and theories upon that which they are studying. They begin a search for what they need to find in order to verify a conscious or subconscious hypothesis. He denies that the scientist infers from observation putative laws and he further denies that the scientist could ever confirm these laws through increases in the number of instances whereby the law is witnessed. He gives the example of white swans. He claims that there could be a hypothesis that all swans are white, but for every extra white swan that is observed this does not justify the claim that all swans are white, it simply increases the probability of the next observed swan being white. According to Karl Popper we should not make generalisations about the unobserved from the observed. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a theoretical vantage point, not a practical solution to everyday life. People will, according to Popper, always make unjustified predictions about the future based upon probability. Such guesses do not entitle us to valid beliefs only to a life of simplicity and normality. Popper concluded that all we know is but 3,'a woven web of guesses', that while empirical generalisations may not be verifiable, they are at least falsifiable. In conclusion, I feel this to be a misguided theory. After much contemplation I am resolute in my opinion that induction is a valid, logical and justifiable means by which to create hypotheses. This opinion is one that is perhaps made bias by the scientific world in which we live. I hold strong beliefs in the cause and effect relationship and insist that natural laws although perhaps not infinite are truly justified. Nonetheless I do believe that Popper's theory provides us with an incentive to test, critise and attempt to falsify those laws that already exist. For in an ever changing world it is important to challenge long standing beliefs and normative values, otherwise I fear natural development and progression could only ever regress. Popper 1963, - biographies of sir Karl popper pp 1 ...read more.

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