Does Hume contradict himself in The Enquiry, Section IV, Part II

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kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 03:19 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;118840 wrote:
That is the normal way, but that does not preclude the possibility of it also occasionally occurring after one instance. You see, people are looking for ways to connect things together, and they often regard it as important to do this as quickly as possible. In the case of the flame, given what it feels like to burn oneself, it is better to err on the side of caution than to do too many experiments to see if there is a regular conjunction of events.

Now, if you can find a quote in Hume in which he states that no one ever connects two events in his or her mind from one instance, then I will agree that he is wrong. But only wrong in saying that, not in his general theory. And I doubt that he ever said any such thing, though, of course, a careless expression here or there would hardly be shocking.

Edited to add:

It may also be worth mentioning that when a child sticks its finger into a flame, that is not usually the first time it has touched something, and so when a child touches a flame, it can use a "higher level induction" to form the conclusion that there will be a constant conjunction of events from touching the flame, as it has observed a constant conjunction of events with touching other things. For example, perhaps every time it touches its blanket, it feels soft, and every time it touches the bars of its crib, they feel hard, etc., etc., etc. So when the child touches the flame, the "natural" thought is that this, too, will follow the pattern of having the same conjunction of events every time it is touched in a like manner.


I think we have to make allowances for the special vividness of this experience for the child. A less vivid association would not be so telling. Flames really hurt.
 
Nameless 23232
 
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 03:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;118859 wrote:
I think we have to make allowances for the special vividness of this experience for the child. A less vivid association would not be so telling. Flames really hurt.


I'd agree, that was one of the first things on my mind when trying to make sense of the example.

---------- Post added 01-09-2010 at 09:35 PM ----------

Pyrrho;118840 wrote:
That is the normal way, but that does not preclude the possibility of it also occasionally occurring after one instance. You see, people are looking for ways to connect things together, and they often regard it as important to do this as quickly as possible. In the case of the flame, given what it feels like to burn oneself, it is better to err on the side of caution than to do too many experiments to see if there is a regular conjunction of events.

Now, if you can find a quote in Hume in which he states that no one ever connects two events in his or her mind from one instance, then I will agree that he is wrong. But only wrong in saying that, not in his general theory. And I doubt that he ever said any such thing, though, of course, a careless expression here or there would hardly be shocking.

Edited to add:

It may also be worth mentioning that when a child sticks its finger into a flame, that is not usually the first time it has touched something, and so when a child touches a flame, it can use a "higher level induction" to form the conclusion that there will be a constant conjunction of events from touching the flame, as it has observed a constant conjunction of events with touching other things. For example, perhaps every time it touches its blanket, it feels soft, and every time it touches the bars of its crib, they feel hard, etc., etc., etc. So when the child touches the flame, the "natural" thought is that this, too, will follow the pattern of having the same conjunction of events every time it is touched in a like manner.


Very illuminating, pardon the pun. I don't know enough about induction to pursue this topic so I think I'll change it. Thanks for all the replies all the same, all of you.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sat 9 Jan, 2010 04:06 pm
@Nameless 23232,
Nameless_23232;118862 wrote:
...

Very illuminating, pardon the pun. I don't know enough about induction to pursue this topic so I think I'll change it. Thanks for all the replies all the same, all of you.


You can read about induction at these sites:

Inductive reasoning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Deductive and Inductive Arguments*[The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Inductive Logic (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Basically, a "higher level" induction is simply an induction about a broader or "higher" category of items. Thus, for example, one can think about cases in which one has touched flames, or one can think about cases in which one has touched something. The second of those is a broader category, and hence is a "higher level". Normally, a higher level induction is considered to be better, as, for example, if you buy a new car, and on day 1, it does not break down, and on day 2, it does not break down, etc., such that one might be tempted to draw the conclusion that the car will never break down. However, if one applies a higher level induction regarding mechanical devices, one may then decide that there is a high likelihood of the car breaking down at some point, as mechanical devices have often been observed to do so.
 
Emil
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 05:32 am
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;118871 wrote:
You can read about induction at these sites:

Inductive reasoning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Deductive and Inductive Arguments*[The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Inductive Logic (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Basically, a "higher level" induction is simply an induction about a broader or "higher" category of items. Thus, for example, one can think about cases in which one has touched flames, or one can think about cases in which one has touched something. The second of those is a broader category, and hence is a "higher level". Normally, a higher level induction is considered to be better, as, for example, if you buy a new car, and on day 1, it does not break down, and on day 2, it does not break down, etc., such that one might be tempted to draw the conclusion that the car will never break down. However, if one applies a higher level induction regarding mechanical devices, one may then decide that there is a high likelihood of the car breaking down at some point, as mechanical devices have often been observed to do so.


Interesting. I have been wondering about just that. Didn't know it had a name.

ETA. Quoted here.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 08:39 am
@Emil,
Emil;118962 wrote:
Interesting. I have been wondering about just that. Didn't know it had a name.

ETA. Quoted here.


Yes, Russell gives the example of the famous chicken the farmer feeds every morning until the morning when the farmer wrings the chicken's neck. Russell does not use that name. I forget what he calls it. Maybe just that the chicken did not take all the available evidence into consideration.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 11:28 am
@Emil,
Emil;118962 wrote:
Interesting. I have been wondering about just that. Didn't know it had a name.

ETA. Quoted here.


I did not invent the name. It is used in at least one logic/critical thinking textbook (Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric, by Howard Kahane, if my memory is correct). From a quick search online, it appears to not be a standard expression. But there should be a standard expression for this idea, and if there are no other good candidates, I suggest we adopt this manner of speaking. (It would certainly make my life easier, as I already do speak this way!)

---------- Post added 01-10-2010 at 12:44 PM ----------

kennethamy;118976 wrote:
Yes, Russell gives the example of the famous chicken the farmer feeds every morning until the morning when the farmer wrings the chicken's neck. Russell does not use that name. I forget what he calls it. Maybe just that the chicken did not take all the available evidence into consideration.


Russell mentions the chickens in his Problems of Philosophy, chapter VI:

CHAPTER VI

Russell does not cleanly distinguish between higher and lower levels of induction in that chapter. He seems to be on the verge of doing so when discussing general laws of nature and specific instances (the sun rising), but it is more as you say, that other information is needed to correct the errors generated in crude inductions.

To be fair to Russell, in that chapter he is interested in examining skeptical doubts about the validity of induction, not in teaching us the finer points of using induction.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 01:11 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;118989 wrote:
I did not invent the name. It is used in at least one logic/critical thinking textbook (Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric, by Howard Kahane, if my memory is correct). From a quick search online, it appears to not be a standard expression. But there should be a standard expression for this idea, and if there are no other good candidates, I suggest we adopt this manner of speaking. (It would certainly make my life easier, as I already do speak this way!)

---------- Post added 01-10-2010 at 12:44 PM ----------



Russell mentions the chickens in his Problems of Philosophy, chapter VI:

CHAPTER VI

Russell does not cleanly distinguish between higher and lower levels of induction in that chapter. He seems to be on the verge of doing so when discussing general laws of nature and specific instances (the sun rising), but it is more as you say, that other information is needed to correct the errors generated in crude inductions.

To be fair to Russell, in that chapter he is interested in examining skeptical doubts about the validity of induction, not in teaching us the finer points of using induction.


But isn't it just that the chicken does not have all the information available? The chicken doesn't know about all the chickens who have wound up in Mrs. Farmer's pot after they had been fed day after day before they ended up as fricassee. It isn't really a different level of induction.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 01:46 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;118997 wrote:
But isn't it just that the chicken does not have all the information available? The chicken doesn't know about all the chickens who have wound up in Mrs. Farmer's pot after they had been fed day after day before they ended up as fricassee. It isn't really a different level of induction.


In the case of the chicken example, Russell appears to be saying that the chickens do not have all of the relevant information. He does not mention levels of induction in that chapter (or anywhere else, as far as I know). In the case of the chicken, the chicken appears to not have information about other farm animals and what happens to them, so it would appear that the chicken lacks enough information to formulate a higher level induction (though Russell did not mention such a distinction, and did not elaborate on the example, as the fine details of what reasoning the chicken might do was not relevant to what Russell was getting at).
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 02:25 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;119000 wrote:
In the case of the chicken example, Russell appears to be saying that the chickens do not have all of the relevant information. He does not mention levels of induction in that chapter (or anywhere else, as far as I know). In the case of the chicken, the chicken appears to not have information about other farm animals and what happens to them, so it would appear that the chicken lacks enough information to formulate a higher level induction (though Russell did not mention such a distinction, and did not elaborate on the example, as the fine details of what reasoning the chicken might do was not relevant to what Russell was getting at).


I don't understand why, if the chicken had all the relevant information, what the chicken formulated would be a higher level induction. Why would it not be on the same level, but just with more information?
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 03:01 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;119004 wrote:
I don't understand why, if the chicken had all the relevant information, what the chicken formulated would be a higher level induction. Why would it not be on the same level, but just with more information?


It would depend upon what information we are talking about, whether it would be a higher level induction or not. For example, if the chickens knew what the farmer did with the pigs, steers, etc., then using that information to judge what the farmer is likely doing with the chickens would be a higher level induction, that would go something like this: The farmer fattens one kind of animal (the pigs), and then eats them; the farmer fattens a second kind of animal (the steers), and then eats them; etc.; then when the chickens consider what is likely to be going on with the fattening of the chickens (yet another kind of animal), and using this higher level induction, the chickens would come to the conclusion that they are probably going to be eaten as well.

Of course, the chicken might reason differently to the same conclusion, based upon different information, as, for example, if the chicken overheard the farmer talking with his wife about having fried chicken for dinner. Then, of course, the conclusion would not be based on a higher level induction about what the farmer does with animals generally.

So, what kind of reasoning is used will depend upon what kind of information we are talking about.

We are getting far from the topic of this thread.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 10 Jan, 2010 03:45 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;119013 wrote:
It would depend upon what information we are talking about, whether it would be a higher level induction or not. For example, if the chickens knew what the farmer did with the pigs, steers, etc., then using that information to judge what the farmer is likely doing with the chickens would be a higher level induction, that would go something like this: The farmer fattens one kind of animal (the pigs), and then eats them; the farmer fattens a second kind of animal (the steers), and then eats them; etc.; then when the chickens consider what is likely to be going on with the fattening of the chickens (yet another kind of animal), and using this higher level induction, the chickens would come to the conclusion that they are probably going to be eaten as well.

Of course, the chicken might reason differently to the same conclusion, based upon different information, as, for example, if the chicken overheard the farmer talking with his wife about having fried chicken for dinner. Then, of course, the conclusion would not be based on a higher level induction about what the farmer does with animals generally.

So, what kind of reasoning is used will depend upon what kind of information we are talking about.

We are getting far from the topic of this thread.


I suppose that calling some formulation a "higher level of induction" is just relative to the initial information. If there is further information, then we move to a "higher level", but had be begun with the additional information it would be one level.

As for the topic of this thread, I don't think that Hume contradicted himself. I think that the particular example of the candle is so vivid for the child that the child has a stronger disposition to expect the sequence, flame hurt, than he would in the case of a duller example.
 
Nameless 23232
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 01:33 pm
@kennethamy,
It's interesting that Russell's chicken example was introduced into the thread as I always interpreted Hume as degrading the value of induction as being instinctive and unjustified on the same level as animals, Hume does after all include a section in The Treatise on animals. Helen Beebee seems to feel similarly in her book Hume on Causation.

---------- Post added 01-11-2010 at 07:36 PM ----------

By the way that was most certainly not an intended namedrop, it was merely inadvertent. I suppose with Hume anyway it's quite possible to interpret these things either way, he's one of those philosophers whose writing is sufficiently open to interpret in contradictory ways.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 01:41 pm
@Nameless 23232,
Nameless_23232;119202 wrote:
It's interesting that Russell's chicken example was introduced into the thread as I always interpreted Hume as degrading the value of induction as being instinctive and unjustified on the same level as animals, Hume does after all include a section in The Treatise on animals. Helen Beebee seems to feel similarly in her book Hume on Causation.

---------- Post added 01-11-2010 at 07:36 PM ----------

By the way that was most certainly not an intended namedrop, it was merely inadvertent. I suppose with Hume anyway it's quite possible to interpret these things either way, he's one of those philosophers whose writing is sufficiently open to interpret in contradictory ways.



Degrading induction in contrast to what? What is not "instinctive and unjustified on the same level as animals"?
 
Nameless 23232
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 01:56 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;119205 wrote:
Degrading induction in contrast to what? What is not "instinctive and unjustified on the same level as animals"?



as opposed to higher level induction, as put forward by Pyrrho, my point was that Hume on this interpretation would not have separated inductive reasoning into different scales, he would have regarded it all as instinctive. He would regard that its never appropriate to generalize future events from previous experience, for inductive reasoning is never demonstrative.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 02:48 pm
@Nameless 23232,
Nameless_23232;119210 wrote:
as opposed to higher level induction, as put forward by Pyrrho, my point was that Hume on this interpretation would not have separated inductive reasoning into different scales, he would have regarded it all as instinctive. He would regard that its never appropriate to generalize future events from previous experience, for inductive reasoning is never demonstrative.


Yes, of course induction is never demonstrative. If it were then it would be deduction and not induction. That is true by definition. In other words, what you are saying is that induction is inferior to deduction because it isn't deduction. It is like saying that basketball is inferior to baseball because you cannot hit a home run in basketball since there are no home runs in basketball. What is wrong with just scoring baskets? And what is wrong with reaching non-demonstrative conclusions. Basketball is not inferior baseball; and induction is not inferior deduction.
 
Nameless 23232
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 03:08 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;119218 wrote:
Yes, of course induction is never demonstrative. If it were then it would be deduction and not induction. That is true by definition. In other words, what you are saying is that induction is inferior to deduction because it isn't deduction. It is like saying that basketball is inferior to baseball because you cannot hit a home run in basketball since there are no home runs in basketball. What is wrong with just scoring baskets? And what is wrong with reaching non-demonstrative conclusions. Basketball is not inferior baseball; and induction is not inferior deduction.


You miss my point, the point I was making is that if interpreted in the way I did Hume would make no distinction between any different methods of induction.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:28 pm
@Nameless 23232,
Nameless_23232;119224 wrote:
You miss my point, the point I was making is that if interpreted in the way I did Hume would make no distinction between any different methods of induction.


I do not think the chicken example has aided in explaining Hume. It was introduced in response to my comments:

Pyrrho;118840 wrote:
It may also be worth mentioning that when a child sticks its finger into a flame, that is not usually the first time it has touched something, and so when a child touches a flame, it can use a "higher level induction" to form the conclusion that there will be a constant conjunction of events from touching the flame, as it has observed a constant conjunction of events with touching other things. For example, perhaps every time it touches its blanket, it feels soft, and every time it touches the bars of its crib, they feel hard, etc., etc., etc. So when the child touches the flame, the "natural" thought is that this, too, will follow the pattern of having the same conjunction of events every time it is touched in a like manner.


We then digressed into a discussion about induction, not Hume. I made the comments above to show that, when a child sticks its finger into a flame, the child isn't really judging the matter from one case, but from countless touching of things that the child has done. One usually forms associations as I say in the quote, so if I touch a new thing that I never touched before, I am likely to imagine that if I touch it a second time, it will feel the same as the first time I touched it. My experience has been such that that would be a normal expectation. So, even if we did go with your idea that Hume insisted that one must have a multitude of tests before imagining a constant conjunction, the child has a multitude of experiences when it touches the flame for the first time. But the digression about higher and lower level induction is a different matter, not important for understanding Hume. They are both, as you say, induction.
 
filos96
 
Reply Mon 15 Apr, 2013 03:11 pm
About Hume, I have four things I don't understand and I think that Hume is wrong about that:
1) If the cause-effect relation is by Hume unjustified to believe in, then what makes him say that ideas are caused by impressions. Is a clear contradition.
2) If all simple ideas come directly from impressions, then how do we get the simple idea of perfection?
3) If we identify an object through more than one sense: sight and touch, then the fact that these two are equal (we can sense a form through touch and see with the eyes that it corresponds to that same form) means that the mind has already a programmation, born with us, to connect these impressions. Therefore, we don't capture every ideas from the world.
4)If impressions may not correspond to reality, then admit that the relation of ideas, accepted incondicionally by Hume, is wrong or at least, unjustified. If we say that 3+2=5, we say that it is correct according to Hume. However, according to him, the 3 that we see may correspond to a 5 and the 2 to a 3 and the 5 to a 9. So, we would be wrong.

How do we explain this according to Hume? I don't see any way to do that
 
Jedothek
 
Reply Thu 8 Dec, 2016 12:27 am
@Nameless 23232,
You are basically right. Hume is being inconsistent. On the other hand, he in general thinks that we do not know necessary connections, and so does not make them any part of his theory of causality. He refers to necessary connections in the process of refuting some theories of others.
 
 

 
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