Post
by **Og3** » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:46 am

So this leads us to the next point, and that is the reliability of our premises. Without reliable premises, we cannot deduce.

Unfortunately, at the very lowest level, we are building on quicksand. We cannot build anything through deduction without laying a foundation through induction. Induction is the process of making an observation, and from this, assuming an axiom. For example, I see the sun rise today. I know that the sun has risen, on average, 365.248 times per year while I have been alive. From these observations, I assume that the sun will continue to rise in a recognizable and orderly pattern for the foreseeable future, into perpetuity.

Is this a reliable axiom? Well, most likely, because we have never known it to be wrong.* But not certainly, because there are similar axioms, similarly constructed, that are not reliable. Bertrand Russell, mathematician and atheist, used to recite the example of a man who owns a hen-house full of chickens. One particular hen observes that the farmer chooses a chicken each night and wrings its neck, so that he can pluck it and eat it for dinner. But the hen assumes that in every observation she has made, she has not been chosen. Therefore she believes that she is safe, and will never be chosen for dinner. Clearly, you see how this is not a reliable conclusion.

So then, we need solid inductive observations, or solid axioms, upon which to build. And here we fall into an abyss. If we assume, as did Kant, that every man is reasonable and will act reasonably with respect to moral issues, and if we assume that reasonable secretly means "Christian" in the broad sense, then we wind up with a Categorical Imperative. Or we can suppose that "I think, therefore I am" and we wind up with Descartes. Or we can assume that "Esse est percipi" (To be is to be perceived) and if we apply it ontologically, we become idealists; if we apply it socially, we become shallow fashionistas.

The assumptions determine the outcome.

This is a critical point, because we may not realize that we have made underlying assumptions in our reasoning. And this is our Achilles Heel, because, in the words of Duhem,* “if the predicted phenomenon is not produced, not only is the questioned proposition put into doubt, but also the whole theoretical scaffolding used by the physicist.”* That is to say, when we find that we have reached a dead end in our reasoning, it is not sufficient to go back to the last cross-roads and try a different direction. We must question every assumption we have made to that point, right down to our inductive axioms.

That's a lot to digest, so I'll leave that for now. But as an exercise, you are encouraged to apply Duhem's Thesis Against Falsification (the bold line, above) to my Australian Conspiracy theory.

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*cf. Og's Principle of Induction, "As observation increases, the reliability of an induction approaches 100%." (Keep, Og, *Caveman Apologetics*, 2013, Rock and fire Press).