## A Discussion on Induction and Other Matters

This is tiring, DCM. So this is my last response to you on this matter. We’ve been sidetracked, btw, from the original issue – which was your original argument against God’s perfect goodness and His being the absolute lawgiver. My response now will be very selective.

Firstly, I don’t accept the distinction between strong and weak induction because it presupposes that complete induction is possible. If one’s induction can be strong or weak, it can be closer to or farther from the truth. However, this presupposes that the truth is discoverable via induction such that one’s induction may be a closer approximation than another’s. This is not the case. A complete induction requires omniscience.

"A complete induction requires omniscience."  Seems like you’re writing your own rules as you go along.  The distinction has been made and whether or not you accept it matters not.  The following are examples of weak and strong induction.

Weak Induction:

This freezer contains 70 cups.

3 cups selected at random were found to be filled with vanilla ice cream.

Probably all the cups are filled with vanilla ice cream.

Strong Induction:

This refrigerator contains 50 bottles.

46 bottles selected at random were found to be beer bottles.

Probably all the bottles are beer bottles.

What you have are approximations given within arbitrarily constructed parameters. Now if the parameters are not arbitrarily constructed, then they are necessarily existent. But if they are necessarily existent, then you must prove this by means of a complete induction. And you can’t do that.

And the problem of induction is recognized as a problem.  However, it doesn’t follow that science is false.

I hold to a different view of science than you. You view it as true; I view it as false. I am opposed to your unfounded certainty in what you think you know because it is irrational.  I am not anti-scientific.

It doesn’t matter how you spin it, you are anti-science.  Science is self-correcting and thus, arrives at truth.  That is why I view science as capable of arriving at truth.  What is irrational is your extreme skepticism.  You are perhaps too skeptical of induction.  As you can see, strong induction leads to highly probable conclusions and science is based on strong induction.  For example:

Every organism on Earth thus far has been found to be carbon based.

Therefore, all organisms on Earth are carbon based.

There’s nothing false in that scientific fact; yes, one can argue this induction as philosopher’s once argued the “all white swan” hypothesis, but until we find an organism that is not carbon based, the induction stands.

Another example:

Every star observed thus far is composed of mostly Hydrogen and Helium.

Therefore, all stars are composed of mostly Hydrogen and Helium.

There’s nothing false here either.  It can be argued, but until we find a star that is not composed of mostly Hydrogen and Helium, the induction stands.

This could go on for hours.  In any case, I think I’ve proven that induction is effective at arriving at truth; science employs induction.  Therefore, science is effective at arriving at truth.

But regarding your retort about the possibility of something happening not proving that something does happen, this is irrelevant. Because it is disputable, it does not meet your qualifications for what a fact is. You explained that “A fact has the quality of being actual and is indisputably the case.” There is nothing to which you can point and say “This is indisputably the case” if you have arrived at that via induction.

Your last sentence is false.  My strong inductions above turn that statement on its head.  I’ll give you perhaps one of the strongest inductive arguments in the book and it is indisputably the case:

Every mammal thus far observed has not been born via parthenogenesis.

Therefore, every mammal is not born via parthenogenesis.

From the conclusion, one can also infer that all mammals are born via sexual reproduction; this is indisputably the case.  Facts can be achieved via induction.  Disputing fact w does not imply that fact w is false.  You can dispute this example and say that someday a mammal will be born via parthenogenesis, but that disputation doesn’t imply that your hypothetical event will occur.

I’m just using your explanation of what a fact has: actuality and indisputability. And yet you tell me later on that “The fact that x can be disputed doesn’t imply that x isn’t factual.”

Indisputable as in unquestionable; you’re using the lighter definitions of the term indisputable such as:  to contend over or argue over.  I would say actual and irrefutable.  I can dispute the fact that my biological parents are in fact my biological parents; my disputation does not change the fact.  That is to say that the fact is unquestionable, irrefutable.

Well, either a fact is indisputable or it is not. If something is factual, then does this not imply, according to your own explanation of what a fact has, that it has the quality of being indisputable? If it doesn’t, then I am curious as to what you mean when you use the word “factual.”

Indisputable is a word provided by a dictionary definition.  Let us not forget, indisputable has a few definitions, one of which is unquestionable.  Facts cannot be actually questioned; one may do so playfully or one may attempt to do so seriously, but ultimately, one does so in futility.

Merriam-Webster says no such thing however:

3  the quality of being actual

5  a piece of information presented as having objective reality

Dictionary.com also has better definitions

1.  something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.

2.  something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
3.  a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
4.  something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.

This is more along the lines of what I mean by fact.

What’s worse is that you go on to say that “Every scientific fact has been disputed at some point; science hinges on the principle of falsifiability. Models that pass that test are regarded as fact.” By this you only further substantiate my position. Who determines where the line in the sand is drawn, DCM? This parameter is arbitrary and begs the question. What if the line is changed in the future? Then do today’s facts cease to be facts tomorrow? Or were they never facts to begin with?

If that which is considered fact today changes tomorrow, it was never a fact to begin with or the actual fact was misinterpreted.  However, that cannot be said of the fundamental forces or of evolution or of many other scientific facts.  I haven’t substantiated your position.  That’s not possible on your position:  “science is false.”  Every scientific fact has been argued over and contended over, but when a fact is established it is then unquestionable.  The fact that gravity is actual cannot be questioned.

You go on to say that “the fact that x can be disputed doesn’t imply that x is false.” No, it doesn’t. But if “x” is disputable, then it is not a fact, according to you. Even granting falsifiability (which is itself not a fact as it is disputable given other lines of argumentation), what you claim are facts are not facts – they cannot meet your criteria. Period. And if you cannot have facts, then you cannot have substantiated facts. Therefore, evolution is neither a fact nor a substantiated fact on your own account. And your assertion that it is a substantiated fact is false.

Dabbing in semantics as always from the beginning of your reply until now. It’s obvious that you failed to define disputable before drafting your response.  To dispute is to contend, to argue or to call into question.  Facts can be disputed in the sense that they can be argued and/or contended, but facts are unquestionable once established.  The Earth is sphere, the Sun is star, Jupiter is a gas giant, Saturn has rings, etc.  The shape of the Earth was once a matter of contention; now it is unquestionable.  I sincerely ask that you stop dabbing in semantics in order to make a point or more accurately, pretend to make a point. Again, verbosity with little substance, no knowledge and countless misrepresentations.  Anyone could establish a case via distortion of his/her opponent’s arguments.  I shouldn’t have to ask you to define words prior to arguing for this or that meaning.

You don’t seem to be following my argument against your view. I’m assuming your position is true for the sake of showing that it is irrational.

Now when you say that “Even that which is arrived at via deduction or in your case, presuppositional apologetics, can be disputed. Therefore, according to your logic, your god isn’t a fact because he has been and is disputed. Evolution is a fact regardless of your predilections,” you are missing the point.

Again, given your definition of what a fact is, you can never have a fact. And since you can never have a fact, you can never have a substantiated fact. And if you cannot have either, then you cannot claim evolution is a fact, let alone a substantiated fact. Perhaps you should change your definition of fact to something that better suits your argument.

My first definition was adequate; however, it can fall victim to semantics as made obvious throughout your response.  The definitions above are more accurate.  In any case, facts are unquestionable; evolution is a fact and is thus, unquestionable.  You can pretend to question it seriously, but you do so in futility.  That which is questionable is actually questionable; facts are not actually questionable.  One cannot question that which is objective.

Moreover, you say that “the theory of evolution is only a representation of the phenomena of evolution; the theory of evolution was arrived at via induction, but the phenomena of evolution occurred and continues to occur apart from experimentation and observation.” Again, I point to your inability to ever arrive at a single fact. Your assertion here is not factual (by which I mean it doesn’t have the qualities of actuality and indisputability).

Again, I point to your inability to properly understand the definition of a term, in this case indisputable, which is the opposite of disputable; thus, you must define the latter to define the former.  This is very basic.  Induction can arrive at facts and I’ve demonstrated that repeatedly.

Your inductivism, I should add, is what is causing you trouble, not me ;)

A person as ignorant and dishonest as you can never cause me trouble.  Inductivism is being questioned by a radical skeptic.  You might as well question existence at this point.

You want to say that evolution is a substantiated fact.

You then explain that a fact has the qualities of actuality and indisputability.

Then you go on to say that I am conflating evolution and evolutionary theory.

I’m not.

Evolution is a theory regarding allegedly observed phenomena. Those phenomena, unless you are again begging the question, are not properly speaking identifiable as “evolution.”

Science consists in discovering the frame and operations of Nature, and reducing them, as far as may be, to general rules or laws—establishing these rules by observations and experiments, and thence deducing the causes and effects of things.

Sir Isaac Newton (1687. The Principia)

Those phenomena are properly identifiable as evolution according to Isaac Newton or will you choose to be obdurate enough to question one of the greatest minds in human history?  I wouldn’t doubt it.  Obduracy is usually accompanied by arrogance.

I am not conflating anything, DCM. You are begging the question by assuming that evolution occurs and, on that basis, differentiating it from the theory of evolution.

I’m not begging the question; I provided the evidence in my previous response and I am under no obligation to repeat myself.  Evolution is fact and your nonacceptance of it doesn’t change that.  Future generations will look upon people like you with shame — as them who are on the wrong end of history.  It is a melancholy truth that evolution is rejected solely due to religious beliefs.  I could care less if you don’t admit that, but your anti-science views have everything to do with your religion and nothing to do with your pseudo-philosophy.

You then make the claim that by “Using your logic, gravity is also wrong!” If you mean by this that I assert that the laws of gravity are not absolute and universal, I agree. They aren’t. And by you saying “If you trust that induction is fallacious, jump off the nearest roof; don’t worry, induction is a fallacy and thus, gravity is false,” you are appealing to ridicule. How is this dealing with my position? You are merely asserting the same thing again.

I’m not appealing to ridicule; that is exactly how your argument sounds and you have confirmed that in this section.  Not absolute and universal?  In which universe?  Gravity is universal in our universe and it is absolute.  Laws of gravity?  Correction:  there is only one law of gravity:  Newton’s law of universal gravitation:

$F = G \frac{m_1 m_2}{r^2}\$

Your ignorance is intolerable and egregious, but more importantly, obvious — too obvious.

Now, I would not jump off of the nearest roof precisely because I don’t know if I will not fall to the ground and die. I don’t know what will happen if I jump off of the nearest roof, but why should that lead me to jump off of it? This is a non-sequitur.

You’ll jump off it because according to everything you’ve said thus far, gravity isn’t true.  It isn’t universal or absolute and thus, it will not apply to you if you jump.  To the contrary, the force of gravity will act upon you until you hit the ground; that is an unquestionable fact!

You go on to say that “A is A as in a male is a male and a female is a female. This has nothing to do with induction; even induction respects the law of identity.” Well, a male is a male for a particular reason or cluster of reasons. You as an inductivist must prove that you can arrive at a conception of maleness that is universal via induction. Microcosmically, you must prove that you can arrive at a conception of any singular constituent of reality by means of induction. You cannot do this. You don’t know what a male is or what a female is, DCM. Gender Identity crises show the plasticity of any definition of gender supervenient upon any observable bases, further showing the inconsistency of your view of things.

Morphological maleness and femaleness is unquestionable; whether or not someone identifies with their biological gender has no bearing on what I said.

You continue to paint me as an inductivist as if that bolsters your view; you do so to continue to misrepresent me.  When did I say that I was an inductivist?  I said that I am a science enthusiast and that science arrives at truth.  If you have to misrepresent your opponent or distort his/her view(s) to make a point, your ability to make points is weak.

A is A is an a priori law of logic that cannot be inferred from observed phenomena. That is the point here. It has everything to do with induction for this very reason: Your position requires you to prove that the law of identity is indeed arrived at via induction.

You cannot do this.

You mean the position you thought I had?  The position you didn’t bother to ask about?  The one you used to misrepresent me?  Thus, I am under no obligation to prove the law of identity via induction.  Like I said in my last response, the law of identity is self-evident.

Whatever anyone thinks of me is of little consequence, so the hypothetical science enthusiast’s opinion of me is irrelevant. Likewise, being a science professor doesn’t make one immune from being a fool. Look at Richard Dawkins, the man couldn’t argue his way out of a wet paper bag.

The only fool I see here is you.  I would be weary of abusive fallacy.  You don’t want to let me out of the philosophical square.  What I have done to opponents via the internet is the equivalent of reducing someone to tears in person.  Tread carefully.

How long should this conversation go on when you cannot see the irrationality of saying things like this:

“Scientific laws and theories are separate from the observed phenomena; scientists admit that there’s an issue with induction. However, that doesn’t cancel out the actual fundamental forces of nature; that doesn’t cancel out the motion of the planets or the fact that life evolved. It doesn’t cancel out the evolution of stars or galaxies. These are actual phenomena in nature and though models are built on induction, the phenomena do not become disputable even if the model is disputable. The facts remain.”?

For all I care, this conversation could end.  I have effectively swept the floor with you.  You have to misrepresent me, you have to distort what I say, you have to deny facts, you have to appeal to ridicule, you have to dab in semantics, you have to use the convenient definition of a term as if said term has no other meaning(s), and apparently, you have to turn to abusive fallacy in implying that I’m a fool.  If I’m only a science enthusiast and a science professor is a fool according to you, what am I according to you?  A fool if not something lesser.  You use all of this crooked methodology whilst pretending to make your points.  It’s obvious this conversation was done some time ago.

You separate scientific laws and theories from observed phenomena. You then go on to say that scientists admit that there is “an” issue with induction. And then you go on to say that the problem of induction doesn’t cancel out the motion of the planets, etc.

This is called question begging.

According to someone who doesn’t recognize logical fallacies when he commits them himself.  It isn’t question begging; it’s true.  Every statement I made is true whether you accept that or not.  Your extreme skepticism changes nothing about induction; you go from, induction has a problem, to, induction cannot arrive at truth.  David Hume would frown on you.

If there is a problem with induction, then there is a problem with justifying statements like “the phenomena do not become disputable even if the model is disputable.”

If the phenomena are indisputable, then there is no problem of induction.

There is a problem of induction, however, and so your assertion that the phenomena are indisputable is literally a form of question begging.

Lastly, the idea of totalitarianism is one that comes up frequently in philosophy for this very reason. If induction affords us no certainty in (a.)establishing that there are certain phenomena, (b.)that those phenomena have certain unique qualities that make them what they are, and (c.)a theory that draws valid conclusions from sound premises, then whether one’s worldview is shamanistic or post-neo-darwinian, there is no difference: All you are left with is the will to power.

And somehow your Christian worldview avoids this totalitarianism?  Sounds like dishonesty to me.

This is one of the reasons why I appreciate Nietzsche’s writing: He was honest enough to admit that truth was a prospect for theologians and metaphysicians, not scientists.

Brilliance aside, he was justifiably ignorant enough to admit what you said he admitted.  Nietzsche lived and died more than a century ago; we have advanced much since then and I know one thing:  truth is not a prospect for theologians — especially not the ones you have in mind!