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He said it: Toronto of TSZ etc on abductive inference to best explanation in science

HR diagrams for star clusters, used to estimate their ages on inference to best explanation.

The illustration to the right is a Hertzprung-Russell diagram of two star clusters, and is used to infer ages for these clusters.

How is that done?

Stellar clusters are gravitationally bound and so the stars seem to be of the same general age and composition, also they are at about the same distance from us. So, on the physics of collapsing Hydrogen-rich gas clouds (in turn based on relativity, atomic physics, spectroscopy etc), star formation, and the resulting life cycle, in particular the model timeline for main sequence turnoffs to the giant band, we can estimate the age of the cluster.

In this case, M67 is estimated at ~ 4BY, and NGC 188 at ~ 5 BY. (SOURCE: Wiki CCA, by Worldtraveller.)

What is the relevance of all this to Toronto’s blunder?

Simple, this is a case from an uncontroversial field, which shows the Newtonian uniformity principle in action and how it is used in an inference to best explanation regarding things we cannot directly observe or measure in science. Namely, we observe features of a given phenomenon and identify characteristic traces that — based on things we can directly observe and their logical or causal consequences — will serve as distinct signs that we may confirm as markers of what we did not actually directly see. (In short, even though we know it is possible that something else may intervene, in absence of positive reason to so conclude, the best explanation of deer tracks is a deer, cf. here at UD recently.)

It is worth clipping from Newton’s rules of scientific reasoning:

Rule I [[--> adequacy and simplicity]

We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances . . . .

Rule II [[--> uniformity of causes: "like forces cause like effects"]

Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

As to respiration in a man and in a beast; the descent of stones in Europe and in America; the light of our culinary fire and of the sun; the reflection of light in the earth, and in the planets.

Toronto of TSZ, a poster child for strawman-
nising not only design theory (he accuses us of circular reasoning) but failing to understand how abduction works in science to explain on best and provisional inference what we did not or cannot directly observe in light of key signs and causes we do observe that leave the same sort of traces

With this principle in mind, we are now ready to see where Toronto went so far wrong as to make himself a poster child for the errors we are dealing with. Citing his already linked comment at TSZ of Aug 19th, where the clip begins with a comment I made at UD:

Kairosfocus [Cf. original Post, here]: “You are refusing to address the foundational issue of how we can reasonably infer about the past we cannot observe, by working back from what causes the sort of signs that we can observe. “

[Toronto:] Here’s KF with his own version of “A concludes B” THEREFORE “B concludes A”.

Oops.

Let’s take it from the top, bearing in mind the parallel case we already looked at:

1 –> In science (and in other fields of significance) we are often interested in getting an accurate understanding of what may have happened in the unobserved or unobservable past, or in places and objects that we cannot directly inspect.

2 –> In such cases, we are led by the logic of inference to best explanation. The Information Philosopher cites Gilbert Harman:

The inference to the best explanation” corresponds approximately to what others have called “abduction,” the method of hypothesis,” “hypothetic inference,” “the method of elimination,” “eliminative induction,” and “theoretical inference.”

I prefer my own terminology because I believe that it avoids most of the misleading suggestions of the alternative terminologies.

In making this inference one infers, from the fact that a certain hypothesis would explain the evidence, to the truth of that hypothesis. In general, there will be several hypotheses which might explain the evidence, so one must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a “better” explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true.

3 –> In short, we consider the alternatives that are possible and try to eliminate down to the remaining one. Of course, in science we cannot eliminate all possible hypotheses, so we infer provisionally on a best current explanation basis.

4 –> Where, we accept that if a pattern of plausible initial and intervening conditions and known laws and statistical patterns could reasonably produce an effect this is reasonably the best explanation. Such as the way we explain the HR diagram of the stellar clusters with their branches from the main sequence heading to the giants bands above.

5 –> Likewise, when we see the characteristic sign of a deer track, we normally infer to deer as best explanation. Let me add:

A probable Mule Deer track, in mud, showing dew claws (HT: http://www.saguaro-juniper.com, deer page.)

A probable Mule Deer track, in mud, showing dew claws (HT: http://www.saguaro-juniper.com, deer page.)

6 –> Now, there is indeed a point where fallacious circularity could enter the picture.

7 –> Ironically, it is a problem that design theorists and others have repeatedly pointed out to a priori materialists of the Lewontinian stripe: if there is a known possible causal factor that could explain an effect more readily than one’s preferred materialist scheme, then it is improper to play gerrymandering games with the rules and methods of science to lock it out of consideration.

8 –> In the case of design theory, we do have a vast empirical base that shows that routinely functionally specific and complex organisation and information are produced by designers, using processes of intelligently and purposefully directed configuration and contingency.

9 –> Not only so, but such is the ONLY observed cause of such FSCO/I. In short there is good reason to infer that this is an empirically reliable sign of design. Thence, to infer from it that things which show this feature may be best explained as designed.

10 –> What does Toronto do to lock this out?  He tries to twist about the question-begging, by ignoring the nature of empirically anchored, provisional inference to best current explanation, and caricaturing the argument then falsely accusing those who properly use such an abductive process of fallacious question-begging.

_____________

That’s rich.

And so, Toronto joins our list of poster children for the errors of a priori evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers. END

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20 Responses to He said it: Toronto of TSZ etc on abductive inference to best explanation in science

  1. Toronto is six cents short of a nickel. Whenever you say one thing it is sure to be twisted and misrepresented by Toronto and others.

    That is a given in the equation of evos…

  2. I do believe that people may repent and turn away from willful ignorance. But failure to do so has it’s inevitable consequences.

    But what can be said of those who harbor and enable and encourage such ignorance?

  3. In such cases, we are led by the logic of inference to best explanation. The Information Philosopher cites Gilbert Harman:

    I don’t care. Harman is quite obviously a tit of the highest order as demonstrated by the quote you provided. That this has passed without notice is shameless. Here is Harman’s rationale:

    1. There are multiple known abductions.
    2. All but one known abduction is provably false.
    3. Now one is warranted in making the inference.
    4. Therefore because the inference is made then the abduction is True.

    If that’s all that’s needed to ascertain the Truth of the universe then the best thing we can be is ignorant of the truth. In that manner our one remaining falsehood is obviously True. Which is patent nonsense that is utterly divorced from sound reasoning no matter how many Darwinists appeal to it.

    And that some among the ID crowd make the same ham-fisted attack on sanity is no excuse for them either. Indeed, given the culture war involved one can be excused for considering that the ID crowd ought be held to a higher standard on this count given that it is the central excuse as to why we should not investigate ID hypotheses at all.

    Heck with it. Scrap all that and allow me to feign ignorance of ID. Therefore Darwinism is true and we can all get back to doing True Science, eh?

  4. The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box:

    “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”

    He goes on to say:

    ” Might there be some as-yet-undiscovered natural process that would explain biochemical complexity? No one would be foolish enough to categorically deny the possibility. Nonetheless, we can say that if there is such a process, no one has a clue how it would work. Further, it would go against all human experience, like postulating that a natural process might explain computers.”

    And from Pg. 72 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education

    “Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.
    In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed”

    The design inference follows Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning. That must be what has anti-IDists so confused- science, real down-to-earth science.

  5. Maus, are you familiar with Douglas Walton?

    http://dougwalton.ca/

    http://www.uapress.ua.edu/prod.....?skuid=853

    Is he also “a tit of the highest order”?

  6. Maus:

    Did you observe how I immediately adjusted Harman in the interests of provisionality and plausibility per best current explanation anchored by empirical evidence (without abusively dismissing him)?

    3 –> In short, we consider the alternatives that are possible and try to eliminate down to the remaining one. Of course, in science we cannot eliminate all possible hypotheses, so we infer provisionally on a best current explanation basis.

    4 –> Where, we accept that if a pattern of plausible initial and intervening conditions and known laws and statistical patterns could reasonably produce an effect this is reasonably the best explanation. Such as the way we explain the HR diagram of the stellar clusters with their branches from the main sequence heading to the giants bands above . . .

    I know you have a problem with the IBE pattern of argument.

    I want to suggest that in the pattern as presented, and adjusted, it is a form of induction as broadly understood — i.e. a case where evidence adduced or implicit in a situation is held to make a conclusion sufficiently credible/”probable” that it is reasonable to believe it to be more likely true than not and to act on the responsible position that it is true absent someone meeting a burden of warrant to show otherwise, e.g. absent contraindications, the best explanation of deer tracks is deer (even knowing that it is possible for something else to create apparent deer tracks).

    Sometimes, this warrant is to the point of moral certainty.

    Wherein, we would be IRRESPONSIBLE to act as though the claim is not true, reliable or trustworthy.

    Induction in this broad sense does not deliver absolute certainty, but then that boils down to saying that we cannot be 100% certain that the sun will rise on the morrow or that the O2 molecules in the air around us in the room where we are sitting will run to one end due to a massive fluctuation, leaving us gasping.

    However, we all act with moral certainty that he two are sufficiently likely to hold that we live by them.

    So do the farmers that grow our food. If these were to presume that absolute certainty was required, then we would all starve.

    Similarly, even in mathematics, it turns out that post Godel, we can have no assurance that any sufficiently rich axiomatic system of thought is internally coherent, and we can be pretty sure that any system that is complete in the sense that it covers all true statements in the relevant field is self-contradictory.

    In short, whether we use deductive or inductive argument schemes makes but little difference, in the end we are going to find reason and belief inextricably intertwined in our rationality and knowledge bases.

    Mung has linked Walton. In his Argument from Appearance (well worth reading in toto), he remarks:

    Forms of reasoning in which an agent infers a conclusion based on observed data (facts) she has personally seen are extremely important for many rea-sons. First, they are basic to discovery tools being developed in artificial intelligence (Santos, 2004). Second, they are very important in argumenta-tion theory, where they provide a focus for skeptical attacks, and give rise to controversies about whether such reasoning is inductive or not, and how it can be analyzed. Third, they are very important in scientific method and hypothesis formation, since scientific reasoning of this sort is supposed to be based on observation of data. Verifiability and falsifiability of scientific reasoning is also based on how this form of inference is to be evaluated, and
    in particular, how it is to be defeated by new data that may indicate revision of a hypothesis is called for. Fourth, this kind of reasoning is very important in legal evidence, of the kind based on witness testimony . . . .

    There are two argumentation schemes representing abductive reasoning (Walton, 2004, 288). One is a defeasible modus ponens form of inference. It is forward moving. The other is based on a dialogue model of explanation, and represents a typical abductive inference of the backward type, going
    from data to a best explanation. Explanation (Walton, 2004, chapter 2) is de?ned as a speech act in which understanding is transferred from a ques-tioner to a respondent by means of the respondent’s offering an account that answers the question put by the questioner. An account is a set of particular and general statements that can be colligated together, but some ?t the data better than others. 6

    A i is one particular account selected from among a given set of accounts, A 1 , A 2 , . . . , A n . Each account given may be successful in explaining the data D, but some are more successful (better) than others.

    Backward Argumentation Scheme for Abductive Inference

    D is a set of data or supposed facts in a case.

    Each one of a set of accounts A 1 , A 2 , . . . , A n is successful in explaining D.

    A i is the account that explains D most successfully. 7

    Therefore A i is the most plausible hypothesis in the case.

    Corresponding to a backward abductive inference there is also a forward abductive inference, represented by an argument diagram made up of a se-quence of defeasible modus ponens inferences.

    Forward Argumentation Scheme for Abductive Inference

    D is a set of data or supposed facts in a case.

    There is a set of argument diagrams G 1 , G 2 , . . . , G n , and in each argument diagram D represents premises of an argument that, supplemented with plau-sible conditionals and other statements that function as missing parts of en-thymemes, leads to a respective conclusion C 1 , C 2 , . . . , C n .

    The most plausible (strongest) argument is represented by G i .

    Therefore C i is the most plausible conclusion in the case.

    The backward and forward schemes represent two different uses of abduc-tive inference that can be applied to the same case. The backward scheme represents inference from the observed data, or given facts in a case, to a hypothesis claimed to be the best explanation of those facts. The forward scheme represents abductive inference as having a defeasible modus ponens form, and as being an argument from a set of premises, some of which are conditionals, to a plausible conclusion. In the snake and the rope example, the person in the dimly lit room reasons backwards from the given data to the conclusion, revising his conclusion at each stage, as new evidence comes in.
    But as shown above by the Araucaria diagrams, the chain of reasoning goes forward from the premises to interim conclusions, and hence to the ultimate conclusion.

    Does this help you to see the point more clearly?

    And BTW, perhaps the best way to view a well-tested scientific theory is as a well-tested, provisionally empirically reliable model that one would be irresponsible to treat as false as default.

    Going further, the irony of Toronto et al is that they are in fact relying on the same form of argument when they seek to provide a timeline for the earth’s past of origins, and of the origin and body plan level diversification of life.

    Only, they too often fail to use empirically reliable, tested causes that are shown in the present to be capable of producing the relevant effect (e.g. darwinian mechanisms have not been shown adequate to create body plan level changes, and more broadly chance and necessity is not a warranted cause of FSCO/I . . . if it were, there would be no design theory or movement).

    On geochronology, they are resorting to signs that are in fact shown to be less than reliable. Indeed, as can be seen here on in context, that holds even for the vaunted convergent isochrons.

    The just linked shows that, ironically, if Petrushka, Toronto et al would take time to actually read what they despise and dismiss, then ponder carefully, they would profit.

    But it seems we are dealing with a case, not of responsible warrant, but instead of finding talking points to rhetorically prop up — by any and all means, fair or foul including strawman tactics and unjust personal attacks — an ideology arrived at and held on to desperately for reasons that seem to have very little to do with its degree of warrant.

    And in the end, that is ever so sad.

    KF

  7. PS: The basic problem: only about 1 adult in 3 at best under present circumstances is able to follow an abstract case. That is why we need to use concrete or vivid examples to clarify. Hopefully, eventually the light bulbs will go off and bit by bit we will add another person or two to that 1/3.

  8. @Mung:

    Is he also “a tit of the highest order”?

    That depends. Does he pass off sophistry as sound reasoning?

    @kairosfocus:

    Induction in this broad sense does not deliver absolute certainty, …

    Natch, but we are speaking of abduction. One cannot leap frog from ‘what if’ to ‘this is the best of all possible worlds’[1] without passing by bean-counting or fallacy. Iff the beans have been counted can we speak of induction or deduction[2]. Everything else is fallacy. Not “ha-ha that’s cute”, but formal fallacy.

    As again a further example we have the quotes from Watson. I haven’t read the essay nor is it necessary for the whole thing hinges on: “The most plausible (strongest) argument is represented by G i .”

    Yes well: How do you know it is the most plausible? The point with abduction is that you cannot. It is pure and utter flight of fancy. Though, to be fair to Watson, he seems to write for a legal context — practicing sophists — quite regularly. And so he’s quite correct on the merits to mention it for courtroom or political affairs.

    Going further, the irony of Toronto et al is that they are in fact relying on the same form of argument when they …

    Yes they do, and I’m like white on rice with them about it also. I have no favorites and make no friends on this particular issue. The defining problem here is that there is a well-tested mathematical model of some problem, domain, or discipline. And then there’s the rationalizations to ‘splain it.

    The math, so long as its empirically validated, is beyond reproach and is just dandy hypothesis non fingo. Quite aside from whether or not anyone bolts a hypothesis on before or after the fact. But that only makes the math good, not the magic.

    PS: The basic problem: only about 1 adult in 3 at best under present circumstances is able to follow an abstract case.

    You are an optimist.

    [1] In Liebzian Multivoltaire cosmology.
    [2] Generalizations and Statistics respectively.

  9. Maus:

    Are you aware of the modern view that inductive arguments are not simply about generalising from particular cases (as I have previously noted to you)?

    Here is Wiki, as a generic example:

    The philosophical definition of inductive reasoning is much more nuanced than simple progression from particular/individual instances to broader generalizations. Rather, the premises of an inductive logical argument indicate some degree of support (inductive probability) for the conclusion but do not entail it; that is, they suggest truth but do not ensure it. In this manner, there is the possibility of moving from generalizations to individual instances. Inductive reasoning consists of inferring general principles or rules from specific facts. A well-known laboratory example of inductive reasoning works like a guessing game. The participants are shown cards that contain figures differing in several ways, such as shape, number, and color. On each trial, they are given two cards and asked to choose the one that represents a particular concept. After they choose a card, the researcher says “right” or “wrong.”[1]

    Though many dictionaries define inductive reasoning as reasoning that derives general principles from specific observations, this usage is outdated.[2]

    Abductive reasoning fits under the modern view.

    It is not reasoning by analogy via family resemblance. It is not generalisation from particular instances and a hypothesised underlying pattern.

    It is an examination of credible alternative explainers of a pattern of observations and a process of evaluation yielding the judgement that one is superior, sufficiently so that it is “likely” enough true to be accepted as the best current explanation. In short the match of elegantly simple (but not simplistic) explanatory power, coherence and factual adequacy is sufficient that we may conclude to increased LIKELIHOOD OF TRUTH.

    Next, abductive inference to best current explanation has nothing to do with arguments that this is the best possible world. That point should not have been put up by you.

    Since abduction is a form of induction — as explained — it is not a fallacy. Indeed, as Walton points out, it is common in many responsible contexts, including science.

    Your flight of fancy dismissal of an evaluation that an explanation is the most plausible in absence of addressing criteria, is not good enough. We are here looking at factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power — neither simplistic nor an ad hoc, after the fact patchwork, which BTW includes predictive power. Of course such does not deliver absolute certainty, but that holds for even deductive arguments post Godel. Similarly, in some cases, there is no decisive verdict. In which case, that should be reported. (In modelling theory, there is plenty room for alternatives.)

    So, I think your flights of fancy dismissal is over the top.

    Further, mathematicisation is simply the quantified case of a model, here one that is as accurate to credible entities of the world as we can get. (In engineering designs we often use very crude models as they are good enough for design or even control purposes.)

    I note, you are misusing Newton. He was saying that he does not allow hypotheses not connected to empirical data to control his theories. That is, no metaphysical a prioris serving as censors. Factual adequacy and explanatory power both tie into this. And coherence — recall, post Godel, never a sure thing — is often going to be expressed in a mathematical form (which includes set theory and logic functions).

    As a F/N, the statistics do say 30 – 35% of adults in some advanced countries are in the formal operations stage of cognitive development. Being in that state with relevance to the specific areas of discussion is another matter. Sometimes, one of willful ignorance.

    I hope I have helped clarify.

    KF

  10. The sad part is neither Toronto nor any other septic zone regular can use abduction nor induction to infer materialism.

    To infer materialism they need to employ full-blown bald declarations. But at least they have themselves convinced that their “methodology” works.
    ________

    Joe, on broken windows theory, please address tone as noted in the other thread. TSZ is a safe abbreviation to use. You are a valuable and effective commenter at UD and you do not need to resort to what simply helps those who are comfortable in swamp mud “justify” themselves. KF

  11. kairosfocus,

    the person Toronto is not familiar. has visit here? has permission to reply to statements here? TSZ has welcome to I D supporters? if yes, could many number of I D suppoerters go there to discuss, as team of support?

    sergio

  12. KF- evolutiondidit- it must be a mutation, random, happenstance- I will have my keyboard checked ;)

    TSZ it is-

  13. SM: I am identifying some typical behaviours by longstanding activists who habitually — and in the teeth of correction and/or duties of care to accuracy and fairness — have used abusive rhetorical tactics against design theory and those of us who have spoken up for it. Hence, the poster child theme. The Skeptical Zone is open for participation if you are interested. KF

  14. @kairosfocus:

    Are you aware of the modern view that inductive arguments are not simply about generalising from particular cases (as I have previously noted to you)?

    So what. You can find modern definitions of ‘deduction’ and ‘induction’ representing the degree of self-esteem and confidence you have in your argument. And surely you are aware of the modern understanding of contadictions? Surely, you know that under Dialetheism, a respectable and modern view from credentialed individuals, that there exist true contradictions?

    So if I accept your plea to wordsnitchery as valid then you surely accept that it was the height of bad form and malice to attack and ban those commenters on UD that took a Dialetheist approach to contradictions. Both arguments stand together or fall together.

    Since abduction is a form of induction — as explained — it is not a fallacy.

    That’s a fantastic straw man. A shame I didn’t make that argument. But since you’re on a roll, perhaps you’d care to take your fine skill to the argument I did make?

    Factual adequacy and explanatory power both tie into this.

    Reiterating Newton: “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances . . . .” (Bold mine)

    And we know they are true… how?

    This is not a rhetorical question, it is the crux of the entire problem. If your answer relies on ‘because I infer it backwards, but not in the well understood fallacy way, but in a magic way indistinguishable yet awesome’?

    Then you are a Supernatural Materialist. And being of Moral Immoral character acknowledge that you have Contradicted your position on Contradiction – -but not in a contradictory manner — and will ban youself from UD by not leaving.

    Which is all absurd and I hope you know better than to go any further down that road.

  15. Maus:

    It’s been a long day and it is clear that you have a fixed position that a blog thread exchange will not shake.

    Let me — at minimum, for onlookers — instead simply cite the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Inductive reasoning, so they will be able to see why I have said what I said; from a highly reputable source:

    {SEP] Inductive Logic

    First published Mon Sep 6, 2004; substantive revision Mon Jun 20, 2011

    An inductive logic is a system of evidential support that extends deductive logic to less-than-certain inferences. For valid deductive arguments the premises logically entail the conclusion, where the entailment means that the truth of the premises provides a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. Similarly, in a good inductive argument the premises should provide some degree of support for the conclusion, where such support means that the truth of the premises indicates with some degree of strength that the conclusion is true. Presumably, if the logic of good inductive arguments is to be of any real value, the measure of support it articulates should meet the following condition:

    Criterion of Adequacy (CoA):

    As evidence accumulates, the degree to which the collection of true evidence statements comes to support a hypothesis, as measured by the logic, should tend to indicate that false hypotheses are probably false and that true hypotheses are probably true.

    Abductive arguments (inferences to best explanation per covering initially present facts and those discovered across time — prediction, coherence per logic etc and explanatory balance) meet this set of requirements and may be properly understood as a species of induction.

    Which, is what I said from the beginning and have given reasons for above.

    You may choose to disagree if you will but the grounds for what I have pointed out should be on clear record for those wishing to understand why I said what I did.

    Those who desire more details will find the linked Enc of Phil article quite helpful.

    KF

  16. F/N: I have laid out my thinking on scientific methods etc at 101 level here, which should be helpful to those seeking to understand. Notice, my emphases on empirical reliability of theories as explanatory models, and on the provisional, progressive nature of science.

  17. F/N 2: Lest some get over-excited, I should note on Newton. I think we may reasonably take him as suggesting that hypotheses should be truth-seeking and accurate thus at least potentially true. So, the deliberate simplifications of say modelling transistors on ideal generators etc are not theory-building. Similarly N took considerable effort — part of the pioneering work with calculus — to make sure spherical bodies act gravitationally ad if they were point particles at their centres. So the genuinely scientific hyp must be a credible potential truth bearer, and it should per empirical data be causally adequate. Then also we may assess like effects as being due to like causes in light of characteristic traces etc.

  18. @kairosfocus

    Let me — at minimum, for onlookers — instead simply cite the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Inductive reasoning, so they will be able to see why I have said what I said; from a highly reputable source:

    True true. You can also find the cites for Dialetheism there as well. So if we consider the vomitus from Stanford as the end of the story then you necessarily have repudiated the Law of non-Contradiction.

    I keep poking you on the LNC because we both know you’d rather cheer on the Turk toddler Olympians than repudiate the LNC. But you have a rather unsavory approach to how you should like to consider which symbols and which definitions at which given time. So we’re going to go the pedant route and have you define the terms as you wish to use them. It makes no difference to me so long as you pick one and stick with it. To that end we have the following concepts:

    True: I take it as given that Aristotle’s notion of True — versus necessary consequence — is agreed upon and needs no remark.

    Preferred rationalization: Define this as you see fit.

    Best explanation: If this is not a preferred rationalization then define how it is different.

    Once we have these three concepts settled as you would like them to be, then we can move forward to the simple epistemic issue of how to get from either of the latter two to the Truth.

  19. Maus:

    Why are you erecting a strawman? Where have you ever seen my views on dialetheism? (And have you bothered to look here on or here and as onward linked in the weak argument correctives on my views concerning the law of non contradiction? If not, kindly do not push words in my mouth that don’t belong there the better to derail a discussion. BTW, you will find that on understanding truth, I have done the obvious thing, started from Ari’s apt summary in Metaphysics 1011b. FYFI, I have pointed to the “grounding” of first principles of right reason: self evidence. Cf the first link just above.)

    Logic and fallacies 101: we are all finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill willed AND gullible. So, if we are reasonable, we examine and assess matters on a case by case basis, i.e. no authority is better than his facts and reasoning on a particular case.

    So it is silly and even disrespectful to deliberately push into my mouth that because I cite standard works that establish that my usage of the term induction is the normal current usage, I must also blindly follow any and all particular claims made in the same source. Nonsense.

    It comes across as that you are simply being disputatious and even quarrelsome. In a context where this ends up as distracting from an important correction to objectors to design theory who have falsely accused me of reasoning in a circle when I point out that science routinely infers based on the IBE pattern, especially as regards origins sciences.

    Namely:

    a: On Facts F1, F2, . . . Fn now in hand that are puzzling, we have

    b: Possible explanations E1, E2, . . . Em

    c: These we may examine on adequacy to cause the facts, and to accurately predict further facts P1, P2, . . Pk that we may investigate

    d: Likewise, on coherence and elegant, powerful simplicity.

    e: Of these some Ei is best on balance and is a potential truth bearer.

    f: So, provisionally, we accept Ei as best current explanation and watch its track record on predictions, etc.

    g: across time we see that it is reliable, and so is supported by evidence and associated reasoning as reasonably likely to be true.

    h: This, is not begging the question, it is breaking the deadlock on which possible explanation to accept on comparative difficulties (and advantages).

    That is a serious issue on the table — one loaded with ad hominem accusations that you seem to be blithely unaware of the importance of cogently responding to, in your haste to pick up a favourite issue — that you have spent a good time distracting attention from. (Notice, so far as I can ascertain, you have said not one word about that loaded accusation of question-begging. Which is the focal issue of the thread.)

    How do you think you come across in such a rhetorically loaded situation?

    I hope you can now appreciate just how your cutting across a serious matter to ride your hobby horse comes across.

    Now, in the case of inductive reasoning, it seems I have to deal with the matter again, at least for onlookers: I am simply making the point that it is not locked down to analogies and generalisations.

    Instead induction is quite reasonably — and generally — viewed as a family of argument patterns where empirical evidence and linked reasoning SUPPORT the conclusion, in a world where we must reason from experience to find warrant — another word you don’t like, for evidently idiosyncratic reasons, never mind that it is the dominant word here on moving beyond belief to knowledge — for conclusions.

    That is not controversial, save it seems to you.

    But in fact it is routine for us to have to make up our mind about the unobserved past or objects we may not directly inspect such as star clusters (cf. OP). We may consult record which we evaluate as credible, or we may directly consult observations and traces of the past, etc. In so doing, we usually consider a body of evidence, and alternative ways it could have got here, e.g. a pattern of deer tracks. We consider for instance: a deer, another animal with similar tracks, a prank, etc. We assess the alternatives in the context of broader references, and we infer which best fits the facts in hand and predicts best further facts unearthed, is coherent [as in not self-refuting], and has a balance of elegant simplicity as an explanation. This is much as Einstein said: everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that. On long and broad experience this is usually fruitful and is economical of resources in a world where all too finite resources need to be wisely husbanded. The balance of considerations will in this case usually come down, a deer is the best causal explanation for deer tracks. Ask any hunter.

    Deer are accurate to reality — they exist and one may possibly exist here. Deer are adequate as cause — deer are observed to leave rather similar tracks, and in similar contexts that say: heading out to feed or back to bed down, etc. Deer is simpler than say a prankster’s machine that could imitate deer tracks, i.e. there is no made up on the spot ad hocery in it and there is sufficient explanatory power in it to cover the facts in hand.

    And as many a successful hunter knows, deer tracks can often lead you to the deer, and are reliable as a sign. Lunch.

    But of course, if we now discover the unexpected fact of a different animal with similar patterns of behaviour, that would adjust our reasoning, That is our reasoning is defeasible [= defeat-able, i.e provisional warrant towards reasonable likelihood, not a deductive must-follow conclusion].

    We need a term for this sort of experience-based, reasonable likelihood of being true, provisional but typically reliable argumentation. On a family resemblance basis, the term generally applied is induction.

    So, on this understanding, Abductive arguments are simply one form of induction. That is because of its close resemblance to say generalisation to a broad claim from observations: all swans seen to date are white, it seems swans are normally white . . . which had to be adjusted in light of the black swans of Australia. As such it is to be evaluated on a per argument basis like any other induction.

    To try to dismiss it broad brush makes about as much sense as to decide sight unseen that you don’t like entire fields of scientific endeavour.

    (And of course, much of the inductive reasoning in science is — and has always been — by abduction, leading to a progression of dominant schools of thought.)

    There are too many serious matters on the table to allow ourselves to be bogged down on a silly side-track debate over what family of arguments inference to best explanation falls under. In reply I say, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like one. So, why not take it as a duck unless there is a specific good reason to conclude otherwise?

    KF

    PS: Those wanting to wade into a debate may want to look here on dialetheism at SEP. Here is one student’s reaction.

  20. So evolutionists don’t use abduction. They don’t use induction. They don’t have any evidence so they use bald declaration.

    And when that is exposed they try to get you banned. Or they torment you for exposing them until you fight back and get banned

    So far so good…

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