Friday, July 12, 2019

10 Year Anniversary!

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I started Inductive Quest!

This blog's content has shifted along with my attention and focus over the years, so thank you to those who've stuck it out over the years to learn my thoughts on the topic of induction.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

William Whewell’s “Discoverer’s Induction” (Part 4)

Previous posts: William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 1) 
William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 2)
William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 3)

Induction as a True Colligation of Facts

Colligation and Induction

William Whewell’s theory of induction and of scientific methodology centers on the explication of conceptions and on the colligation of facts. Induction for him is mainly about what facts, propositions, definitions, and ideas we can draw out of our conceptions, and about how to find new and more productive ways to bind these elements up into a more exact, more appropriate conception. The ancient and prevailing theory of induction has been that it’s enumerative: a general statement or proposition that is applied to a collection of instances.

Friday, July 5, 2019

William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 3)


The Structure of Knowledge

Before Whewell can fully articulate the details of how induction works in scientific methodology and in theory-formation, he needs to explain several related issues. He has to express his views on the source(s) of knowledge, on how knowledge builds up, and on how we can justify what we’ve learned. In short, he has to first construct his epistemology (theory of knowledge) to then discuss how his theory of induction builds on that foundation. In Part 3 of this series on Whewell, we will cover his controversial notion of fundamental ideas, on how we produce conceptions and the complementary processes of explication and colligation.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 2)


The Fundamental Antithesis of Philosophy

The purpose of the Philosophy was the determinations of both the nature and the conditions of human knowledge (Philosophy I, 16). His theory of induction was framed as a part of the full articulation of the dimensions and powers of knowledge. But before Whewell could present his theory of induction to the reader, he wanted them to wrap their heads around a foundational issue, a division of knowledge at the base of science, of philosophy and of human life itself. This was the dual nature of knowledge, which he termed the “fundamental antithesis of philosophy.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

William Whewell's "Discoverer's Induction" (Part 1)

Abstract

This series will summarize the major elements of William Whewell’s (1792–1866) theory of inductive reasoning, which he termed “Discoverer’s Induction.” Whewell (pronounced “Who-ell”) was a 19-century philosopher of science and a polymath, who believed that the true purpose of science was to form the clearest and most beneficial concepts that we possibly could manage.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Update on Plans for Inductive Quest


A short post on what I plan to do with Inductive Quest in the future.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Objectivist Volition vs Indeterminism

In the free will-determinism debate, Objectivism stands in rare company with those philosophies that adopt the libertarian view of volition (which is free will considered as incompatible with determinism). Most philosophies embrace one of the alternative theories to libertarian free will: hard determinism, soft determinism (compatibilism), and indeterminism.  Responses to the hard and soft versions of determinism will be forthcoming. This current essay will present an overview of the indeterminist perspective on free will. Afterwards an Objectivist response to the indeterminist position will be explored, both to explain the differences between the two theories as well as to point out errors on the part of the indeterminists.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Objectivist Volition Versus Alternative Theories

The previous essays in this series presented the Objectivist concept of free will, and demonstrated how it operates in the mental and physical realms. In this essay, the Objectivist view of volition will be compared with some past theories of free will. Three broad views of volition will occupy the first half of this paper: free will as the choice of actions, as the choice of motives, and finally, as the choice of ideas. Afterwards, a response will be given to each of these views, pointing out certain missing information or other flaws. The essay’s conclusion will discuss how the Objectivist theory of free will is a more holistic version of human choice than these past theories have offered.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Freedom of Human Action

Human action has several forms. Involuntary actions exist, such as reflexes and subconscious prompts like the involuntary recall of a memory. In the realm of voluntary action, we’ve established that the primary choices are focus and non-focus (as either drift or evasion). The choice to be completely out of focus prevents a person from carrying out a wealth of other actions that were otherwise possible to them. A mind fully out of focus can merely react passively to whatever stimuli reaches their consciousness. However, the choice to focus opens up endless possibilities, possibilities which can be explored only if the person chooses a goal and directs his mind and body towards its attainment.

I’ll elaborate a bit on the idea that untold amounts of actions, both mental and physical, become available once a person chooses to focus. Mentally, a person can choose what one wants to think about, whether it’s about the next day’s weather forecast, which math problem will be solved first, or what workouts will be included on a weekly fitness schedule. We can think and make decisions regarding our personal lives, social lives, family ties, and careers; in short, we can decide what we want to cognitively deal with. Physically, we control our bodies’ muscles and thus can decide where we want to go and what we want to do, whether it’s going to the movies, cooking a steak dinner, or investing in a promising company. Our control of our respective minds and muscles allows us to tie our thoughts to our bodily actions in order to perform a wide diversity of complicated actions, sometimes only lasting a few seconds (e.g. carrying food to throw it out in a nearby trashcan), sometimes spanning the course of years (e.g. training to compete as an Olympian) or even the majority of one’s life (e.g. a life-long career or raising a family).

I’ll start with the relationship between causality and the primary choices which I discussed in the previous essay. Following that, I’ll show how cause-and-effect operates with our choice to think and what causes can affect our thoughts. After that, the causality involved in human actions will be discussed. The conclusion will focus on this principle as another intuitive induction, and with a word of caution about “living” an unfocused life.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Free Will and the Primary Choice

In my earlier essay about the perceptual level, I mentioned that the sensory and perceptual levels of consciousness are automatic, but the conceptual level is not. Our brains, nervous systems, and minds as well as those of other animals are biologically set to have sensations or perceptions with an environmental stimulus or a change in one’s perceptual field. There is no choice or alternative in the matter. But the same cannot be said for the conceptual level of consciousness.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hobbes and Hume on the Senses: a Response

This essay is a follow-up to “The Perceptual Level as Given.” It will discuss a philosophical school that tried to answer the question of what the mind starts with: the sensualists/empiricists. The bulk of this essay will be an extended presentation of the sensualist approach of consciousness and knowledge as expounded by key sensualists like Hobbes and Hume. That section will be followed by a couple of my own problems with sensualism as they relate to the perceptual level of consciousness. (My issues with the sensualist view of the conceptual level will have to wait until I work through the inductions of concept-formation. I’ve also modernized the words in Hobbes’ and Hume’s quoted statements.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Perceptual Level as Given

One of the questions that philosophy asks is, “what information does the mind start with, what is ‘given’ with regard to our consciousness”? To answer this question, let’s briefly survey the levels of information that the mind deals with from the Objectivist perspective. As this principle sort of encapsulates the Objectivist view of perception, I’ll elaborate on some aspects of perception that I covered in previous essays. After giving this overview, I’ll discuss this principle’s relation to the previous intuitive inductions I’ve written about. The conclusion will discuss some overall lessons to be learned about epistemology from the Objectivist principles about perception that have been explained.