Very simply put, inductive reasoning is generalizing from a trend. David Hume (1711-1776) referred to unobserved "matters of fact" to describe possible futures a posteriori. If you contrast experienced outcomes with Hume's relations of ideas, there are some fundamental differences. For me, the mnemonic that surfaces as the most significant is a scene where I visualize the earth (in planet view). I ask myself, does our planet fall apart if these ideas were to change? Do the laws of physics still exist as we know them? If no (about our world falling to pieces) and yes (about our physics) this is my reminder that these 'relations of ideas' are key to life as we know it. When you induce something you are formulating the facts of the matter, the strength of which is challenged only through falsification or counter-inductive reasoning. Falsification is rigorous whereas counter-inductive reasoning is begging the question and circular by definition. I don't like to philosophize on a Merry-Go-Round. A möbius maybe, but not a carousel, it makes my head spin.
Now if we are going to evaluate the justification of belief by whether or not inductive reasoning was the cause, we have some heavy intellectual lifting to do. For Hume, the approach was a tempered voice to the Age of Reason. Driven by feeling first, reason second, do you notice the begging in "we induce truth through induction?" Hume's entire point is that all claims of true knowledge through induction are unjustified as he offered the layman of his time a position based on felt experience and ammunition against unchecked rationalization. At this point, it's important to point out that we can live in disagreement or coalesce in groups where claims on truth are a subjective popularity contest but what we can't say is that every claim on truth is justified.
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher that today we would call a public intellectual. He relied on the sale of his books to survive, so his writing had to appeal to the masses. Hume's voice ran counterpoint to the claims of the day where Reason and the rational mind were the ideals of a "better" person. There is much to admire with David Hume; he is an intellectual giant and his footprints prodigious. If he were alive today, I induce, David Hume would be that radical in the middle, part of the Intellectual Dark Web for sure. As a thought experiment, I think the modern-day reincarnation (or clone) of David Hume would be a justice warrior (without the social), fighting against the hypocrisy of the day. It's induction I use to generalize from the historical trends, so I will attempt to do this and modernize David Hume. From his writing and influence, the patterns of his past behaviour (read in history books and biographies), I can fathom David Hume as neither a Trump supporter nor a lefty leftist. He would be a data scientist, a statistician and of course a philosopher. He would study trends, review data and generalize from the data trends that emerge. Most importantly he would be a powerful voice for the people. Especially impressed with the year 2018, Hume would marvel at the computing power and implication of Bayes' theorem, which was published by Thomas Bayes 1763. The accuracy of an entire scientific field used to quantify justified belief would be impressive! What a utopia for Hume, yet here we are with improvement always on the horizon. What's our next leap for 2263? Has anyone ever shown the 'relationship of ideas' in history and correlated this to reality we experience today? Again imagine a modern day version of David Hume seeing the fruits of his influence taking shape and transform the dogma of the day. That 1763 paper by Thomas Bays was entitled, "An Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances."
Do I agree with David Hume? Absolutely! We are living the contemporary vision he imaged, a world he helped to create, "the" ideal he formulated was based on challenging truth claims and justifying belief. Could history of unfolded or developed differently? Not only does this makes me contemplate history as the result of one possible outcome but it also qualifies as a 'matter of fact'. Interpretations, perspectives on or about relations of ideas are quantifiable only through the dogmas of the day, what isn't disputable (or refutable) is a history where David Hume didn't exist, some giants live on. Aided with the astragali throws of iSocrates, and then Gerolamo Cardano these early games of chance defined the paradigm of algorithms and Big Data, the fruits of which give us invisible protection under the Bell Curve as long as we are the lucky many that regress towards the mean. Pythagoras was known for many things, most memorable was the Pythagorean Theorem, but the underlying truth was always there as Plato had Socrates remind Meno.
I have shown that we rationalize history using both inductive and deductive reasoning and how this relates to the Humean dialectic of thought. In history, certain claims hold more strength than others with the most salient being the claims of people like David Hume. Once experienced a posteriori a world without probability and randomness makes my world disappear, how would we function without the gift of statistics and algorithms? The following rhetorical question will be open to what Kierkegaard called, "wounds of negativity", but I want to ask the philosophical community the following question; does Hume's claim that inductive-based beliefs apply to consciousness? Consciousness is something we, as a species, we induce from experience. Does this make consciousness an unjustified belief? I would say yes it does and scientifically this is a justified a belief as well as a matter of fact! There is a certain aspect to Knowledge that change over time but Newtonian Giants like David Hume now function as our guide, our Virgil below the layers of our earthly atmosphere.
Bayes T. (1763) "An Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances". Phil. Trans., 53, 370–418. doi:10.1098/rstl.1763.0053 ↩︎
I subtracted our current year; 2018 from David Hume's year of death; 1773 and then added the answer back into 2018. This gave me the year 2263. Wait a minute, can you beg the question with a mathematical equation? ↩︎
Even Pythagoras had own dogma of the day. Did you say square root of 2? Die! ↩︎
From the opening lines of George Steiner's, Grammars of Creation. ↩︎