What is Science?

1) Compare and contrast the differences between Aristotle’s deductive and Francis Bacon’s inductive approach to the scientific method. By extension, in what ways were Bacon’s methods seen as an improvement over Aristotle’s?

Aristotle deductive approach to science depends on valid arguments, which in turn leads to a conclusion. A concept becomes true when several premises combined deduce a conclusion (Ladyman 20). However, the conclusions drawn by premises are not always correct, especially when the arguments are twisted. Invalids arguments can bring an outcome that could be true, according to Francis Bacon perspective. According to Bacon, conclusions should be made when repeated observations based on experience and experiments are examined (Ladyman 22). While Aristotle deductive scientific method starts from the beginning of a generalization to a specific instance, Bacon’s inductive reasoning analyzes the results of the particular case so that the validity of a general comment can be determined. The truthfulness of a science concept is assured when ample data exists according to Bacon’s approach. Bacon inductive approach to scientific methods is based on aggregate data, while Aristotle perspective involves personalized ideas. Also, the Bacon’s inductive method provides solutions to both positive and negative cases contrary to Aristotle’s method suited for only positive instances (Ladyman 24). Bacon’s approach is a modification of Aristotle’s since his way improves the validity of premises by conduction of experiments and collecting data so that a valid conclusion can be made (Ladyman 21).

2) Why, according to David Hume, can induction ever be justified? In other words, what is Hume’s problem with induction?

David Humes, sceptical attitude towards induction, is due to the inflexibility nature of the method. Induction relies on assumptions that there will be no changes after an experiment or observation is made. Induction method examines casual relations but fails to account for changes that may occur in the future (Ladyman 35).  For instance, when we conclude swans are white by observing the existing ones, one would question if the conclusion was made after observing all swans in the universe. David Humes problem with induction is evident in the conversation between Thomas and Alice. Thomas refers to scientists efforts as trial and error since a drug can be declared to be safe for a given time only to be abolished afterwards. Yet, experiments were conducted (Ladyman 13). Therefore, induction hardly guarantees certainty that the conclusion obtained today by induction will be the same as tomorrow. On the other hand, deductive reasoning offers a higher level of assurance that the end will always be real.

3) Which one (or a combination) of the ten proposed solutions to the problem of induction do you find the most compelling? Explain your answer.

The most compelling theory of justifying induction is the theory of probability and the principle of induction. The use of mathematical figures can establish the likeliness of inference to be true can be determined (Ladyman 43). For instance, a probability of 100 per cent would boost the level of certainty, whereas a 50 per cent probability gives a more a hint that anything can happen, encouraging flexibility. A truth that assessed using a mathematical approach is more accurate and reliable. In cases where the probability theory cannot effectively apply then the principle of induction works. The law uses the concept of premises and makes inductive methods deductively valid (Ladyman 44). For instance, if all metals expand when heated, and a sample of N materials expands, the material N can be proved to be a metal.  Therefore, by taking as many samples of N materials as possible and evaluating that the probability of the material expansion when heated is high, we can safely deduce that the material is metallic apart from performing tests on the sample.

4) Summarize Karl Popper’s concept of falsification as a solution to the problem of induction.

Karl Popper believed that science is always critical. Scientists do not use data as they claim, but instead, they come up with their false views and attach evidence to their theories (Ladyman 69). Falsification explains why scientists always disapprove each other arguments and present new ones after discarding the former false theories. He believed that a world without induction is possible since methods utilized by scientists are deductive. Scientists do not base their opinions on an inductive background; they falsify their methods. For instance, the scientist goes by Newton’s law gravity because all objects so far obey the law. However, a dramatic shift of theories may be witnessed if a particular purpose fails to follow the law.

Similarly, all swans will be white from observations until a black swan is discovered, and the fundamental theory becomes false. According to Popper, a scientist never uses background information of induction to prove the validity of their claim because they knew that possibly other scientists would come up with new observations and test the theory wrong. A scientist can only reliably come up with a conclusion by falsifying a theory that exists (Ladyman 69).

5) Which problem of falsification do you find most compelling? Explain your answer.

The fact that some scientific theories are impossible to falsify is the most exciting part of falsification. Some concepts in the universe, regardless of evolution, remains consistent, and no experiments can be done to forge them. This fact is sensational because Popper himself identified such instances that cannot be falsified. For example, Popper found the theory of natural selection to be true by definition and therefore, undisputed (Ladyman 85).  Some scientific theories that use probability also cannot be falsified by any findings; for example, tossing a coin can only yield a head or tail result and nothing more or less. Also, the existence of certain aspects cannot be proven others, just because one is not in a position to see them is not sufficient in rejecting their existence. For instance, the presence of DNA, atoms, viruses and black holes is beyond falsifying because they exist (Ladyman 82).

Works Cited

Ladyman, James. Understanding Philosophy of Science. Routledge, 2012.

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