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Inductivist Method of Science Essay


Science provides a robust means through which human beings study the nature of their universe. It is every scientist’s goal to find a solution to a particular problem. There are many conventional methods of doing this.

One of these methods is induction. In the inductivist method of science, generalizations are formed after examining certain particulars. For instance, using inductivist science, one can conclude that lions are cannibals after examining enough lions.

Inductivist science has two main aspects. The first is the mode of reasoning employed when attaining theories. The other one is the mode of reasoning used in order to obtain predictions. When attaining theories, an experiment is performed and the results are observed.

These results are then used to formulate a theory that will revolve around determining what will happen in most or all examined cases. On the other hand, predictions are obtained after analyzing several possible outcomes. In induction science, predictions are mostly based on a specific theory and hypothetical results.

A theory refers to a general law that can help in obtaining predictions. Therefore, one can use a theory to come up with new possible situations. These “situations” are in this case the predictions.

The inductivist method of science has several inherent problems. Most of these problems revolve around the method’s concepts of prediction and theory. For instance, according to the inductivist method of science, observed statements precede theories and they are independent. This means that observations are based on senses.

This premise may not be true because not everything can be seen, felt, or experienced. For instance, when two people see the same object they do not necessarily interpret this observation the same way. This is because the brain generates a perception statement and not the eyes. This implies that there are inherent differences in perception that pose a challenge to inductivism.

There are many critics of inductivism as a scientific method. Most of these critics tend to lean on the method’s shortcomings. One of those people who have voiced their criticism of induction is Hume. His main argument is that induction depends on the assumption that nature has a stable and regular character that remains the same.

According to Hume, this reasoning is flawed because the observed “character” can change. The events surrounding global warming are a good example of Hume’s argument. His general concern is that just because something is regular now, there is no guarantee it will remain so in the future.

Apart from critics, there are those who are fully behind induction as a viable scientific method. This group would reply to Hume’s criticism by claiming that induction is a rational scientific method. The proponents of induction consider induction as the only good and available method. This is because induction is regularly used in everyday life by individuals across the world.

Opponents of Hume’s criticism argue that inductive reasoning is rational. Therefore, this coincides with Hume’s argument that it is “rational to be rational”. A good way to describe rationality is that it is “the best obvious choice”. This makes induction the rational way of doing things.

Other than philosophical criticisms of the inductivist account, there are also some descriptive ones. The most common descriptive criticism of inductivism is that inductions are supposed to be made based on facts. However, when using only induction, it is impossible to get these facts.

The other criticism is that the results of an induction are subject to variations that are in tandem with changes in the process of knowledge attainment. Therefore, one cannot attach finite results to an ever-changing society or knowledge-system.

Although the inductivist methods are often faced by a lot of criticism, there are instances where they have been effectively applied. Several popular scientists have used this method when conducting their research. In addition, the method is still used today whenever research projects are being undertaken. An example of a scientist who incorporated induction into his work is Kepler.

None of Kepler’s laws depended on the usual observations and calculations. Instead, Kepler used inductive methods to formulate scientific laws. This process involved attainment of theory by gathering evidence and making calculations. The great Isaac Newton also used induction to test his theories. All Newton did was to observe the actions of nature and then theorize.

Inductivism as a scientific method is faced by many challenges. However, there are very few instances where theories can be proven beyond a shadow of doubt. All theories are formulated on the premise that they are “probably true”. This means that the shortcomings of induction do not provide a basis for dismissing this theory.

The critics of induction are of the view that concerns like the Raven paradox are enough prove that induction is not a viable scientific method. They also argue that science has to be conducted in a conclusive and privileged manner.

Just like other philosophies, inductivism attracts both proponents and opponents. Nevertheless, this method continues to be used in several scenarios of day-to-day life. The debate concerning its suitability is also set to continue to elicit varied views from scholars.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Inductivist Method of Science." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/inductivist-method-of-science-essay/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Inductivist Method of Science'. 22 April.

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