Hume 's Problem Of Induction Essay

Hume 's Problem Of Induction Essay

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In this essay I will argue that we can learn to live with the fact that there is no answer to Hume 's problem of induction, by showing that we have an 'a priori ' 'desire to survive, ' which forces us to make inductive inferences. Firstly, I will explain my understanding of the question, due to its problematic nature. I will then outline Hume 's problem of induction, and try to provide an 'a priori ' justification for a rational 'desire to survive ' and show how this desire forces us to make inductive inferences. I will then object to my argument suggesting that the assumption regarding a priori value of pleasure can be problematic, and that the definition of rationality is debatable. As a response, I will consider the idea of a 'reflective equilibrium ' suggesting that we have no other coherent defense of making inductive inferences.

My interpretation of what is meant by 'can we learn to live with it? ': 'can ' means "to be able to" (Cambridge, 2015); 'learn ' to mean accepting the problem of induction, but not to deny the usage of induction, but rather to accept a weak justification of it; 'live ' to mean "to continue to exist" as a rational being (Oxford, 2015); 'it ' refers to induction. To paraphrase, I will be looking to provide a justification (however weak it may be) for the rational use of induction, in light of there being no answer to it, which will ultimately allow us to continue to exist as rational human beings.

To define and demonstrate 'the problem of induction’, we have to look at the two ways in which Hume states we can describe the world: “relations of ideas" and "matters of fact" (Hume, 1748, p.18). The former, relation of ideas, can be known 'a priori ' - knowledge which requires no empirical obs...


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...ecided that what I have argued for above is the most coherent way view regarding the problem of induction. It should be noted that I can modify my view "as new elements arise in our thinking"; my current view is simply "stable" for the time being (Daniels, 2013).

To sum up, I have outlined the problem of induction above and given my justification for making inductive inferences, through showing 'a priori ' the 'desire to survive ', and the rationality behind this reasoning. I have considered that my assumption concerning pleasure may be fallible, as is my view of rationality. However, whilst recognising that there is no answer to the problem of induction, I claim that we have to reach a "reflective equilibrium", where we have not ceased to try to solve the problem, but have come to a "stable" point where the beliefs are coherent and have a degree of justification.

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