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I have been unable to find any argument for induction by Ayn Rand personally. Yet everyone seems to treat induction like part of Objectivism. Why?

And the revised ItOE has:

Prof. M: Take the example of Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. He said that if the theory is true, then the planets will exhibit elliptical orbits with the sun at one of the foci. Now it is found in astronomy that the planets do follow that path. So what can one say then about Newton’s theory? Is it a possible explanation? Is it correct, or what?

AR: After it has been verified by a great many other observations, not merely the verification of one prediction, then at a certain time one can accept it as a fact. But taking your example as an illustration of what you are asking, if the sole validation for Newton’s principle was that it predicted that orbits will be elliptical, and then we observed that they are elliptical—that wouldn’t be sufficient proof. Epistemologically, it wouldn’t be enough. You would have to have other observations, from different aspects of the same issue, which all support this hypothesis. [Historically, Newton validated his theory by means of a great many observations of widely differing phenomena.]

Prof. M: The question is: when does one stop? When does one decide that enough confirming evidence exists? Is that in the province of the issue of induction?

AR: Yes. That’s the big question of induction. Which I couldn’t begin to discuss—because (a) I haven’t worked on that subject enough to even begin to formulate it, and (b) it would take an accomplished scientist in a given field to illustrate the whole process in that field.

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Here Ayn Rand says she didn't work on the subject and doesn't know how to solve a problem induction faces. So why assume that problem can be solved, rather than maybe some other approach works instead of induction? Why, before knowing how to make induction work, do people think it has to be induction instead of maybe some other way to get objective knowledge?

I agree there has to be some solution for how we get objective knowledge, since we do get knowledge, and we can see that (e.g. we built iPhones, wrote books with knowledge, built power plants, went to the moon, etc). But without already knowing the full solution, why assume it has to be induction instead of something else?

I'm aware Peikoff wrote about induction, but I mostly want to ask about Ayn Rand's view here. Peikoff's views are not all universally accepted by other Objectivists, e.g. his idea about how we had to all vote Democrat. I think there's more to this than that Peikoff likes induction.

Why is Objectivism attached to induction?

=================

EDIT trying to clarify:

Critical Rationalism (from Karl Popper) solves the problem of induction by rejecting it and approaching epistemology a different way. But that isn't the point. It doesn't matter what the alternative is for my question about why being singleminded on induction as opposed to looking in other places. The point is induction has certain features – by your own account, and the account of every Objectivist book. It doesn't matter if you reject features I list even though they are concepts found in Objectivist literature and strongly featured in the general literature and thinking on induction. I'm not concerned, specifically, with what the features are. It only matters that there are features we can call inductive, and they are specific enough not to cover some part of literally every approach to reason.

You guys agree that induction involves some sort of process of generalizing from evidence to theories. Where is the argument that reason or epistemology must work that way – by a process of generalizing from evidence to theories – rather than in some other way? I acknowledge induction as a lead worth looking into, but those efforts have failed over and over (or at least not actually succeeded). So why keep saying induction is the answer instead of saying maybe induction, maybe something else, and we should look in both places?

Why ignore things like Critical Rationalism and abduction? (I don't agree with abduction, but it's another proposal worth addressing.)

Yes something has to work. We know that because we have computers and spaceships and modern medicine. Reason works, whether we know how reason works or not. Rational epistemology must have a solution and we should accept that whether we know what it is or not. But that solution doesn't have to be induction.

As far as I can tell, the reason is because of hidden assumptions which people take for granted and don't recognize as substantive claims requiring argument. These things are also believed by large numbers of non-Objectivists who treat them similarly. My best understanding of the situation is that Objectivism took the status quo in epistemology, then dramatically improved it, and every suggested change was indeed an improvement. But Objectivism did not rethink and fix absolutely everything about epistemology. That should perhaps be unsurprising considering some features of Objectivist epistemology, like induction, are very common with non-Objectivists. One part of epistemology Objectivism didn't rethink is induction, even though it was known to be problematic before Rand was born, and Rand didn't have a solution to that problem. I find that worth questioning, and I'd like to know why that is.

Let's look at some books:

Understanding Objectivism

The contrast to deduction would be induction, which is the process of generalizing from observation. Induction is the attempt to grasp abstractions on the basis of observing concretes, and that is the antithesis of the rationalist’s whole approach.

The Logical Leap

The central issue here is the failure of philosophers to offer a solution to what has been called “the problem of induction.” Induction is the process of inferring generalizations from particular instances. The complementary process of applying generalizations to new instances is deduction. The theory of deductive reasoning was developed by Aristotle more than two millennia ago. This crucial achievement was a start toward understanding and validating knowledge, but it was only a start. Deduction presupposes induction; one cannot apply what one does not know or cannot conceive. The primary process of gaining knowledge that goes beyond perceptual data is induction. Generalization—the inference from some members of a class to all—is the essence of human cognition.

OPAR

A "principle" is a general truth on which other truths depend. Every science and every field of thought involves the discovery and application of principles. Leaving aside certain special cases, a principle may be described as a fundamental reached by induction.

=====================

The first two say induction is a specific way of approaching reason involving generalization (so for example, induction doesn't include approaches to reason that don't generalize from instances to get general theories). The third assumes principles are arrived at by induction however induction actually works (details never figured out so it actually works), rather than by reason however reason works. Why assume that? Why go from knowing reason works – which I agree with – to mixing up reason with induction and assuming induction works, even though induction does not cover all the possibilities for how reason might conceivably work? (Or if it's thought induction does cover all the possibilities for how reason might conceivably work, what/where is the argument for that?)

asked Nov 29 '14 at 22:02

Curi's gravatar image

Curi
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edited Dec 06 '14 at 22:32

1

Curi, induction vs. deduction are simply classifications of the two broad categories of logical inference we are aware of. If we were to become aware of a pattern of logical inference not represented well by this broad classification, we would of course revise it -- we are people of reason, after all, and not dogmatists. Perhaps further developments in epistemology will do just that, which would be wonderful. In the meantime, though, if you think the classification is misguided, then please feel free to show us the concretes that demonstrate the need for a revision.

(Dec 06 '14 at 23:16) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

OK that makes sense. So maybe Objectivism isn't overly attached to induction, just some Objectivists I met elsewhere were, and the book passages were just saying what they knew.

Regarding specifics, see Karl Popper's books. Or if you'd like to have a discussion and ask me questions about it, we can go to a discussion place. It seems awkward to talk back and forth here and not the right site to discuss Popper in general. There's also my other question about Karl Popper.

(Dec 06 '14 at 23:24) Curi Curi's gravatar image

So to clarify: is Objectivism conceivably open to the possibility induction doesn't actually work at all? It's only other things which work and account for all the success that has been (mis)attributed to induction? If there were an argument so that wasn't just an arbitrary possibility.

(Dec 06 '14 at 23:28) Curi Curi's gravatar image
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"Is Objectivism conceivably open to the possibility induction doesn't actually work at all?" Curi, as has already been pointed out, your own conception of induction seems to be much narrower than the one in circulation. When you question others about their thoughts and statements, you need to use their understanding for the terms they are using, not your own. On my understanding of what falls under the category of inductive: the answer is absolutely not, and I've already indicated why. On your understanding of the term: who knows?

(Dec 07 '14 at 00:14) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

I don't believe it's correct to classify The Logical Leap as "Objectivist literature". It was written long after the death of Rand, and there are definitely people who identify as Objectivists who have significant problems with it. You seem to recognize that "Peikoff's views are not all universally accepted by other Objectivists," but then you refer to two books written by Peikoff and one book whose only real tie to Objectivism is through Peikoff and the fact that it purports to be "based on Ayn Rand's theory of concepts."

(Dec 07 '14 at 11:16) anthony anthony's gravatar image

"I think there's more to this than that Peikoff likes induction."

There is a lot more to the relationship between those identifying as Objectivists and the problem of induction than just that Dr. Peikoff "likes induction."

A lot of it can be found with just a little bit of googling, which makes me a little bit suspicious that the question in the title isn't the real question that is being asked.

(Dec 07 '14 at 11:35) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Even just the statement "Peikoff likes induction" is a huge understatement. The Logical Leap, "Inspired by and expanding on a series of lectures presented by Leonard Peikoff," calls itself "A groundbreaking solution to the problem of induction, based on Ayn Rand's theory of concepts."

I think you know the relationship between Dr. Peikoff and Objectivism. If not, please ask another question.

But The Logical Leap is one of those works which is not "universally accepted by other Objectivists." At best this too is the subject of another question, though I suspect it might be closed as off-topic.

(Dec 07 '14 at 11:46) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Anthony, what I'm mainly trying to find out is what are the arguments for some of this stuff, e.g. for the "absolutely not" from Greg Perkins above (which he says he indicated why, but I can't figure out what he means, and I asked some friends and none of them can figure it out either.)

Greg can you clarify? I know you think you already told me, but we're not on the same page. You said you aren't a dogmatist and would potentially appreciate innovation in epistemology, but then I try to clarify and you say that you would absolutely not be willing to consider some epistemology ideas.

(Dec 07 '14 at 15:12) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Good grief, Curi. The math is painfully straightforward: Given what I've already explained, asking "Is Objectivism conceivably open to the possibility induction doesn't actually work at all?" is equivalent to asking whether Objectivism is "conceivably open to the possibility of" some mystical, method-less way of "just knowing" higher-level generalizations. Of course it is not open to that specific possibility: Objectivism is a philosophy of reason, and the Objectivist rejection of mysticism isn't arbitrary.

(Dec 08 '14 at 17:19) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Don't get mad at people because they have a different perspective than you and try to ask questions to understand Objectivism better. You don't seem to be understanding my basic point. Communication is hard so let's not get frustrated ok?

"Induction" is not the name of the category of all non-mystical non-arbitrary non-deduction methods of reasoning. So why are you assuming(?) alternatives must be mystical, arbitrary, or methodless? When I ask if you'd consider alternative ideas about epistemology, that includes non-arbitrary non-mystical ones with a method. But you say absolutely not.

(Dec 08 '14 at 17:28) Curi Curi's gravatar image
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Curi, I am not frustrated because you have a different perspective; I am frustrated because you seem unwilling to heed the simple fact that the meaning of peoples' statements depends on their understanding of the terms they use, not on yours. You asked why Objectivists think induction is so wonderful, and I explained that Objectivists uphold the necessity of non-mystical methods of logical inference which are not deductive, and currently we classify ALL of those methods as "inductive". Whether this category of "inductive" is ideal or not is another issue entirely.

(Dec 08 '14 at 18:04) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

I am trying to heed that fact.

You said you classify all methods you know like that as "inductive". I'm asking if you'd consider arguments that 1) there are other methods that work which don't fit the inductive mold and 2) none of the inductive methods actually work (whenever people had success, they actually were doing something else and were mistaken to think they were using inductive methods successfully).

you seem to be saying no, you wouldn't even consider it, you'd dismiss it out of hand. but i don't understand what is the argument for refusing to consider that kind of claim.

(Dec 08 '14 at 18:10) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Sigh. Curi, I said nothing of the sort regarding what I would consider or dismiss out of hand, and I have no more patience for this. Good luck in your studies.

(Dec 08 '14 at 18:23) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image
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"Deduction" refers to the broad pattern whereby one applies an abstraction or generalization, drawing out and demonstrating some implication which is present. Deduction makes explicit what was only implicit. As such, deduction is certainly an aspect of reasoning in general.

But notice that deduction depends on generalizations. Just as one can't drive cars without there being cars to drive, one cannot demonstrate implications of generalizations without there being generalizations with which to do so. One needs to know that all men are mortal (a generalization) before one can deduce that Socrates is mortal because he's a man.

"Induction" refers to the broad pattern of observing concretes and arriving at a generalization. That understanding is true for most everyone, not just Objectivists. However, Objectivists reject any notion of revelation or of "innate ideas": we recognize that all of our knowledge of reality ultimately comes to us via the evidence of the senses. So Objectivists understand that induction is necessary (because we need generalizations). Indeed, while these two broad broad patterns in reasoning work hand-in-hand, induction is the more fundamental process: as mentioned above, deduction is not possible until induction has happened.

Lacking a complete and clear account of induction doesn't mean that induction isn't real and necessary. We've pretty well settled that it is. Rather, the challenge is to develop an account of how induction is (or at least can be :^) objective so that we can be all the better at it. This is similar to how humanity has been using concepts for all of our history: the challenge wasn't to prove that concepts are real and necessary to cognition. Rather, the challenge Rand took up (and nailed) was to develop an account of how concepts are (or at least can be :^) objective, helping us to be all the better at creating and using them.

answered Dec 04 '14 at 15:57

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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edited Dec 04 '14 at 16:00

Why are you talking about deduction?

I get that reason works, somehow, and gets us generalizations. But I'm asking: why assume reason works by induction rather than in another way? Induction is a specific approach to reason/epistemology. Where is the refutation of all other approaches? Without refuting all alternatives, or fully working out induction, I don't see why you'd assume induction must be the answer here.

(Dec 04 '14 at 18:40) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Objectivists present a nice account of why revelation, innate ideas, and any other forms of "just knowing" are illegitimate as sources of knowledge -- so we know that some method is required for gaining higher-level knowledge of the world via the evidence of the senses. I was talking about deduction because it and induction constitute the two broad buckets for classifying methods of reasoning, and since deduction necessarily depends on higher-level generalizations, it cannot be the whole story: induction is necessary, which goes to addressing your question.

(Dec 06 '14 at 13:45) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Where is the argument that deduction and induction are the only two methods?

Since induction has unsolved problems of the "it doesn't work" type, which people have been failing to solve for ages, why not be open to the idea that something else achieves the successful results that have been attributed to induction? Why rule that possibility out? Why only look for ways to make induction work instead of also looking for alternatives?

(Dec 06 '14 at 21:37) Curi Curi's gravatar image

That a few alternatives like revelation have been refuted is not a good reason only to look for rational approaches in the induction category and not anywhere outside it. I think. I've been trying to find out any reason for doing that.

(Dec 06 '14 at 22:19) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Since induction has unsolved problems of the "it doesn't work" type, which people have been failing to solve for ages, why not be open to the idea that something else achieves the successful results that have been attributed to induction?

If you phrase the problem as "it doesn't work" then, unless you're going to take the absurd position that man cannot know anything, you've already assumed that something else does work.

Objectivism (and this I believe we can say is part of Objectivism as it follows from IToE) says that induction does work, and that the "proofs" otherwise are wrong.

(Dec 07 '14 at 12:05) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Anthony: Objectivism (as written by Rand) says induction does work, without knowing how, and without providing arguments refuting the criticisms of induction. Correct? Why do that? Reason works and any proof to the contrary must be wrong, but induction is another matter. Why reject that reason might work somehow other than induction, without refuting the problems with induction or solving them?

(Dec 07 '14 at 15:19) Curi Curi's gravatar image

I like IToE. I don't know what you're referring to from it. If you want to have a discussion, email me curi@curi.us

(Dec 08 '14 at 13:46) Curi Curi's gravatar image

I'm not sure where my copy is, but according to the index, pages 295-304 in the expanded second edition of ITOE are a few pages where Rand answers questions about induction.

(Dec 09 '14 at 13:38) anthony anthony's gravatar image

As for the answers to your questions, no, that's not correct. But if you want me to elaborate, ask another question on here (as a brand new question, not in the comments), or ask on twitter (if you're worried about breaking the "no discussions allowed" rule).

(Dec 09 '14 at 14:39) anthony anthony's gravatar image

email me curi@curi.us if you're willing to discuss. twitter is terrible for discussion.

(Dec 09 '14 at 19:14) Curi Curi's gravatar image
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The question accurately identifies the state of Ayn Rand's own limited work on induction as it stood at the time of her death. Further Objectivist work on induction has come subsequently, primarily from Leonard Peikoff, with considerable assistance from David Harriman as to how induction actually worked out in the development of physics (especially classical physics). The efforts of Dr. Peikoff and David Harriman are not without certain elements of controversy, but it's the best Objectivist explanation of induction that we currently have, as far as I know. Ayn Rand has indicated why there were questions about the nature and validity of induction, and Dr. Peikoff and David Harriman have subsequently endeavored to resolve the questions.

The present Question asks:

I agree there has to be some solution for how we get objective knowledge, since we do get knowledge ... [but] without already knowing the full solution, why assume it has to be induction instead of something else?

"Induction" refers to the process of integrating a wide range of specific evidence into an abstract, unified conclusion. The "problem of induction" refers to the validation of that process (and clarification of it if needed). If some other term were to be used instead of "induction," the process to which it refers would remain the same and would raise the same questions. Why should a different term be considered, when the term "induction" is perfectly suitable as a name for the process?

Why is Objectivism attached to induction?

The issue is the nature and validation of the inductive process. It's a reasonable issue in epistemology. Objectivism seeks to offer a comprehensive, integrated view of epistemology (and other fundamental branches of philosophy). Why, then, would Objectivism not be concerned with endeavoring to understand the nature and validation of the inductive process more fully, as a long-term objective in philosophical development?

As for the actual inductive achievements of great scientists, it's easy for them (in countless cases) to say: given the evidence, such-and-such a conclusion has to be; any other conclusion would be impossible. And others can apply the conclusions of science to practical problems in technology and industry, and everyone can observe that the process generally works. Not knowing, as fully as we might want, why induction works doesn't change the actual, observable record of successes. Even when there is a failure, after-the-fact investigation and analysis can reveal what went wrong in specific cases, and what can be done in the future to avert a recurrence of the same kind of failure again.

If the questioner has some other meaning in mind for the expression, "attached to induction" (or "part of Objectivism"), the questioner should elaborate on the intended meaning.

Update: How We Know

Subsequent to my original Answer above, considerable discussion has occurred in the comments, and the question itself has been greatly expanded with further references to various writings associated with Objectivism and new references to Karl Popper's writings and conclusions about induction, including specifically Popper's idea of "Critical Rationalism" as opposed to (and an alternative to) induction. The question regards the "problem of induction" as not yet solved, not even by the recent work of Peikoff and Harriman, so why shouldn't rational observers remain "open" to alternative views of how man gains knowledge of abstract theories that work in practical application in industry and technology?

The expanded question reiterates strong opposition to induction and cites a possible alternative (underlining added for emphasis):

Critical Rationalism (from Karl Popper) solves [?] the problem of induction by rejecting it and approaching epistemology [in] a different way....

... induction involves some sort of process of generalizing from evidence to theories....

Why ignore things like Critical Rationalism...?

Rational epistemology must have a solution [explaining how reason operates] and we should accept that whether we know what it is or not. But that solution doesn't have to be [or include] induction.

What does it mean to "reject induction"? Apparently, it means rejecting the claim that man gains knowledge of abstract theories by integrating observed facts of reality. If one doesn't base one's knowledge on looking at reality, then where does abstract knowledge come from? The only conceivable alternative source is from a priori ideas. Rejection of induction in favor of "Critical Rationalism" means rejecting facts of reality in favor of a priori ideas. It means rejecting empiricism in favor of rationalism. Popper may or may not have meant the same things by "rationalism" that Objectivism understands "rationalism" to refer to, but it is apparently no accident that Popper chose the term "rationalism" for his views. (A more in-depth overview of "Critical Rationalism" can be found under that topic on Wikipedia, although it has been asserted without citing examples that Wikipedia is unreliable.)

On rechecking Harry Binswanger's new book, How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation (just published this year, 2014), I found the following on p. 383:

The contemporary attack on science by Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend is grounded in Kantianism. In their post-modern version of Kant, science deals not in truth but in public relations, and is the embodiment not of reason, but of faith. [The book cites three separate references for this conclusion in works by Kuhn, Lakatos and Musgrave, and Lennox.]

This mention of Popper et al appears in the book's discussion of Kant on pp. 382-383:

Following Descartes, Kant's philosophy starts from within consciousness and regards awareness of the external world as problematic; Descartes' "intuition" now becomes the voice of "noumenal" reality heard through (of all things) our alleged sense of "moral duty." Following Hume, Kant regards the external world as utterly unknowable (except for this alleged sense of "duty"); Hume's "habits of association" become Kant's innate "synthesizing categories."

Beneath Kant's notoriously convoluted terminology is an all-out separation of the mind from reality. Both perception and conception are cut off from "things as they are in themselves," which remain forever unknowable. Science deals only with "appearances" ("phenomena"), and is, in effect, held to be a shared delusion.

How We Know also provides an extremely helpful overview of induction on pp. 255-259, including a concise summary of Leonard Peikoff's conclusions about induction as published by David Harriman in The Logical Leap and illustrated by Harriman's detailed discussion of induction in classical physics. Page 256 in How We Know observes:

Induction has been under attack for centuries, and is now regarded as something uncertain or subjective. But the validity of induction cannot in fact be denied or even questioned: induction is the fundamental means of acquiring conceptual knowledge. Without induction, there would be no general premise for a deduction to apply. Deduction presupposes induction.... all inferences either are inductions or require inductively reached premises.... [assuming a priori ideas are ruled out] ...

Though there is no "problem of induction," there are legitimate questions regarding how induction works and what is required for an inductive generalization to be valid. (In the same way, there never was any "problem of deduction," but Aristotle's discovery of the principles of deduction marked an historic advance.)

This section goes on to describe, as revolutionary, Leonard Peikoff's new understanding of induction, fousing on the crucial role of concepts. Further paragraphs on pp. 256-257 explain the role of "the hierarchical nature of knowledge" and "the open-endedness of concepts." Page 257 discusses first-level generalizations and points out that inductions in general, on any level, are identifications of causal connections. For example, "pushing a ball makes it roll" is a first-level induction that identifies a causal relation between pushing a ball and the ball's response (assuming a typical context free of special circumstances such as glue or fasteners holding the ball in place). First-level generalizations such as this are perceptually self-evident, even to a toddler.

The role of causality is crucial in induction. It is not enough merely to observe a sequence of actions and effects that always seem to be associated together. Man must grasp the attributes (the nature) of the entities -- that they are what they are -- and recognize that entities act in acccord with their nature.

Man also routinely relies on measurement-omission in concept formation, including omission of time measurements. Man can observe that entities fundamentally remain what they are over time, sometimes changing in specific ways in accord with their underlying nature.

Although the Question seeks rejection of induction, the question also tries to soften this position as follows:

You guys agree that induction involves some sort of process of generalizing from evidence to theories. Where is the argument that reason or epistemology must work that way – by a process of generalizing from evidence to theories – rather than in some other way? I acknowledge induction as a lead worth looking into, but those efforts have failed over and over (or at least not actually succeeded). So why keep saying induction is the answer instead of saying maybe induction, maybe something else, and we should look in both places?

Leonard Peikoff and David Harriman (and Harry Binswanger, too) are trying to show the world that understanding induction need not "fail" any longer. Induction is more than just a possible "lead." Understanding induction proceeds from identification of facts of reality, including facts of the actual history of the great inductions in the physical sciences, for example. How can any possible "argument" be offered for anything without relying on a process of induction, a process of integrating observed facts into an abstraction? And how could any "alternative" to induction be possible without resorting to a priori ideas? I can only hope that the questioner will remain open to studying induction further, if he seriously regards it as a valid "lead."

answered Dec 04 '14 at 01:18

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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edited Dec 08 '14 at 23:29

I think you got my intended meaning. But I have an objection still. With one substitution, I agree that, "Not knowing, as fully as we might want, why [reason] works doesn't change the actual, observable record of successes." But why does reason or epistemology have to be inductive rather than non-inductive?

I'm not trying to argue terminology. Induction refers to a category of approaches to epistemology, not all possible approaches. Like you say, '"Induction" refers to the process of integrating a wide range of specific evidence into an abstract, unified conclusion.' More in next comment.

(Dec 04 '14 at 02:30) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Induction has certain specific features such as starting with evidence and going directionally from evidence to conclusion, like you mention. It has others too, like the idea that, "the future (is likely to) resemble the past", and the idea that repeated observation add more weight to the evidence. Are any of these open to question? (More in next comment because of character limit.)

(Dec 04 '14 at 02:30) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Is Objectivism open to the idea that reason works in a way which has some substantive difference from induction? If not, where is the argument that rules out all non-inductive approaches? Unless induction was fully worked out, or all alternatives ruled out, then I don't see why to assume the way reason and epistemology works is induction. Hopefully that clarifies what I'm trying to ask about.

(Dec 04 '14 at 02:30) Curi Curi's gravatar image

What does it mean to "reject induction"? Apparently, it means rejecting the claim that man gains knowledge of abstract theories by integrating observed facts of reality. If one doesn't base one's knowledge on looking at reality, then where does abstract knowledge come from? The only conceivable alternative source is from a priori ideas.

Not understanding alternatives doesn't mean there aren't any. If you won't find out what Popper's ideas are, you can't speak to issues like this. If you want to find out, discuss with me somewhere that facilitates discussion. curi@curi.us

(Dec 09 '14 at 19:12) Curi Curi's gravatar image
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Since the other answers address the meat of the question well, I wanted to make a few notes about things the questioner has brought up in comments.

(1) The questioner appears to be under the misapprehension that Objectivism says that reason consists solely in induction. For example (from the comments):

But I'm asking: why assume reason works by induction rather than in another way? .... Where is the refutation of all other approaches? Without refuting all alternatives, or fully working out induction, I don't see why you'd assume induction must be the answer here.

...

But why does reason or epistemology have to be inductive rather than non-inductive? ...where is the argument that rules out all non-inductive approaches? Unless induction was fully worked out, or all alternatives ruled out, then I don't see why to assume the way reason and epistemology works is induction

However, Objectivism does not hold that reason consists solely in induction.

Instead, Rand taught that "Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses." The Objectivist Ethics in The Virtue of Selfishness, p20. This faculty clearly include more than just induction. For example, Objectivism holds that perception is part of this faculty of reason. There are also other examples of non-inductive reason according to objectivism. In particular, from perception man forms abstractions (concepts), and "[t]he method which reason employs in this process [of forming abstractions] is logic." Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World in Philosophy: Who Needs It, p62. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification, or, in other words, "man’s method of reaching conclusions objectively by deriving them without contradiction from the facts of reality." Nazism and Subjectivism, The Objectivist, Feb. 1971, p12. Thus, any method that allows man to perform non-contradictory identification would be welcomed by Objectivists as a form of logic and an aspect of reason. Historically, two flavors of this method (logic) have been identified and validated: deduction and induction. Objectivism holds that both of these types of logic are valid. So far as I know, no other valid form of logic has been proven, and thus Objectivism does not preach any such "third method". If the questioner thinks that there is a third form of logic besides deduction and induction, then it is the questioner's responsibility to identify the candidate method and to prove that it is objectively valid. Since Objectivism does not claim that it is impossible for such a third method to be discovered and validated in the future, Objectivism does not need to disprove all other methods.

(2) The questioner appears to have a very specific conception of what "induction" is, which appears to be much more narrow than what Objectivism holds. For example, the questioner states (in the comments): "Induction has certain specific features such as ... the idea that, "the future (is likely to) resemble the past", and the idea that repeated observation add more weight to the evidence." Regardless of whether these ideas are correct or not, they indicate that the questioner has identified a very specific type of thinking as "induction". However, induction broadly speaking is simply the method of moving from particulars to generalizations. This encompasses much more than the apparent scope of the questioner's concept of induction. If

answered Dec 05 '14 at 09:27

ericmaughan43's gravatar image

ericmaughan43 ♦
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I didn't mean solely induction, I meant partly induction. Why does reason have to partly include induction instead of that portion of reason (the part where induction applies) actually turning out to work by non-inductive methods? (Non-inductive methods meaning ones which get generalizations in a different way than by moving from particulars.)

(Dec 05 '14 at 16:31) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Regarding a third method: the point is if induction has unsolved problems then why assume induction is the second method rather than saying it's an open question what the other methods of reason are, and whether they include induction or not?

(Dec 05 '14 at 16:32) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Hi, Curi. As Eric pointed out, you seem to be understanding "induction" more narrowly than those whose thoughts you are asking about. So the direct response to your question is that your your premise is simply false; you've asked a loaded question. Objectivists aren't "attached to [what you mean by] induction" so there is no "why" to provide in the first place.

(Dec 06 '14 at 13:12) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

But we're here to help, Curi: can you please describe what source are you imagining for (higher-level) generalizations which does not involve some method of moving from knowledge of particulars? If it isn't revelation or inbuilt ideas or some other methods form of "just knowing", then I suspect it will fall under the broad umbrella of what we mean by "inductive".

(Dec 06 '14 at 13:13) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

I'm not trying to assume a specific variety of induction. I've updated my question.

(Dec 06 '14 at 22:19) Curi Curi's gravatar image

Isn't it bad to delete stuff that informed people's replies? Then their replies won't make sense anymore. Isn't it like pulling the rug out from under them?

(Dec 07 '14 at 15:16) Curi Curi's gravatar image
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Asked: Nov 29 '14 at 22:02

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Last updated: Dec 09 '14 at 19:14