What does induction mean? - Chapter 4


The first chapters deal with the fact that scientific knowledge is derived from facts, how these facts can be established and its criticisms. This chapter deals with the derivation of theory and science from those facts.   The interpretation that scientific knowledge is formed by first establishing the facts and then establishing the corresponding theory has been shown to be incorrect. In this chapter, we will explore how to interpret the concept of 'derive' into a more logical meaning instead of a temporal/physical one. It is important to determine to what extent the facts confirm the theory. The statement that theory can be derived logically from facts cannot hold. This becomes clear as we consider some basic characteristics of logical reasoning.

What does baby logic mean?

Logic is about establishing facts that should logically follow from other facts. If the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true. This would then be a logically valid argument. If the premises are true, everything that is logically derived from it is true. The most important thing is that the reasoning is correct/valid and not whether the premises are true. All that logic can offer is that as the premises are true and the argument is valid, then the conclusion must be true. However, the question of whether or not the premises are true cannot be answered with mere logic. An argument can contain perfect logical deduction, even if it contains a false premise.

Can scientific laws be derived from facts?

An example:


1. Iron expands when it is heated.
2. Copper expands when it is heated.
3. Steel expands when it is heated.


All metals expand when heated.

This reasoning is logically invalid. It is, of course, true that all metals expand. It does not follow from the premises that metal will never shrink when heated. This is how we distinguish deductive from inductive reasoning. We speak of valid deductive reasoning when conclusions are derived from a number of facts. Inductive reasoning (which is the example above) is based on a finite number of facts, from which a general conclusion is drawn.  Inductive reasoning never contains logical validity, because inductive reasoning can never exclude that something else may have happened.

What makes an inductive proof valid?

The interpretation of facts on which science is based on can never be deductive. This event must always be inductive. The reliability of inductive reasoning requires the following conditions:

  1. A large number of observations must be made in order to form the basis of generalization;

  2. The observations must be repeated under a large number of different conditions;

  3. None of the accepted observation statements may conflict with the derived general law (one of the other observations)

Condition three is essential as it becomes the principle of induction. The principle of induction states that:

"If a large amount of Cs is observed under a wide variety of conditions, and all observed Cs have property D without exception, then each C always has property D".

Problems arise, namely:

  • In regards to statement 1: What exactly is a large quantity?

  • In regards to statement 2: What is a relevant deviation in circumstances (how many/what type of conditions must you control?)

  • In regards to statement 3: there would be hardly any scientific knowledge if we were to follow the rule that there must be no known exceptions.

What other problems with regard to inductivism are there?

Inductivism can be described as the position in which scientific knowledge is derived from observable facts of inductive reasoning. The followers of inductivism are called inductivists. There are even more problems with inductivism:

  • With inductivism, the problem of the observation requirement plays a major role. For example, in DNA research, not everyone can perceive DNA, because the potential observer needs very specific knowledge for this.

  • Testing scientific laws against theories is debatable, among other things because of the use of formulas. As a result, the measurements that provide evidence for the laws are inaccurate, however, the laws contained in formulas are accurate.

  • The validity of inductivism within itself is debatable. Namely, if we take the following premises:

    • The induction principle works in situation C

    • The induction principle works in situation D

    • Conclusion: The induction principle always works, so this reasoning is itself inductive reasoning. Circular reasoning thus arises.

Why is inductivism attractive?

Because we need the knowledge to see facts and to classify them into important and unimportant facts, we cannot clearly deduce knowledge from those facts. Since induction has a predictive value (with the aid of observation and knowledge, these predictions are plausible), it is very attractive. In general, scientific explanations and predictions can be compiled as follows:


  • Laws and theories

  • Initial conditions


  • Statements and predictions.

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