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The Future

Satisfactory Essays
The Future

It is by following clues that we make discoveries, not by reasoning inductively. Now some people would accept this view but nevertheless argue that in science we cannot avoid reasoning inductively. For , , they say, suppose we have discovered a law of nature—let us say the law that all metals expand when heated. Now in saying that this is a law of nature we are saying that it holds not only in the past but also in the future. If it is a law of nature that all metals expand when heated, then metals will expand when heated not just today but also tomorow. But how do we know they will expand tomorow? Tomorow has not yet come. If we know, we can only know by reasoning inductively (they say). The law has held in the past; therefore it will hold in the future. Reasoning from the past to the future is inductive reasoning.

In this paper I want to respond to this argument. My point will be, there is no need to reason inductively even in science. To help make my point I will draw on three examples.

Example 1: Station A

Suppose you crack ciphers. You have been intercepting messages from a radio station which you have called Station A. The messages transmited by Station A are encrypted by a cipher which you have already broken, a cipher which for your own convenience you have called Cipher X. Because you have already broken Cipher X, for the past six months you have been able to read every single message sent out by Station A. This morning you have intercepted another message. You have not deciphered it yet ...

How are you going to decipher your new message? Are you going to decipher it by using Cipher X, the cipher you have broken and which Station A has been using these past six months?

I think you are likely to say, 'Of course! '

So you will decipher the new message using Cipher X, as I too if I were in your position.

Let us now go over the situation again. You have broken Cipher X. You have been deciphering all messages from Station A using Cipher X. You are now about to decipher this newly intercepted message by using Cipher X.

Now considering what you have done and what you are about to do, can we infer that you are reasoning inductively?
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