The failure of unbelief with respect to induction illustrated by Mitch LeBlanc.
Mitch LeBlanc continues to espouse his inconsistencies regarding induction in his most recent post found here – http://urbanphilosophy.net/philosophy/further-thoughts-and-clarifications-on-induction-and-the-christian-god/
Mitch Admits His Problem
He writes, “…I simply mean to suggest that one should be as skeptical about the problem of induction as the problem is skeptical of inductive reasoning itself.”
With this he begs the question. I pointed out that he did so in his previous post and he continues to do so now. The existence of debate regarding a given topic does not entail skepticism. If he is unsure of whether or not there is a Problem of Induction then we can go to the mat on the issue, but to mention that the topic is debated as though this puts some argument in his corner or makes the presentation of an alleged problem go away is simply a mistake. In his most recent post Mitch makes it clear that he does agree with me that there is a Problem of Induction anyway, so why is he wasting time throwing around the names of philosophers who think there may not be a problem and expressing a feigned skeptical attitude toward there being a problem?
If Mitch wants to entertain the idea that invalid reasoning is not unreasonable and hence is rational then he may go ahead and do so, but aside from a quick allusion to this one time in his original post he has not developed a defense of such an idea.
Mitch believes that there is a Problem of Induction and writes, “I think there is an inability to justify our extrapolations of past events into the future”. Now that he has finally admitted this, the readers will expect him to at least provide an answer to the problem after all of the trouble he has put us through in inconsistently presenting us with a multitude of positions he does not hold in the face of the presuppositionalist’s challenge to do so. What is his answer?
His Proposed Solution; Pragmatism
“Admittedly, I am still making my way through Reichenbach’s writings on probability theorem but I agree with him that if there are any true inductions our consistent use of induction will eventually discover them. This justification is pragmatic in nature but certainly a reason for it’s continued use.”
Mitch appears quite confident that finishing a book will provide him with his answer as to a sort of justification for induction. (So much for unbiased reading!) Just from the little bit he pulls from Reichenbach we find a number of problems. The method is itself based upon induction and hence falls prey to Hume’s original objection. We will come to the same conclusions, using Reichenbach’s method, that we will come to if we do not. Even this begs the question though, as it is likewise based on induction. We cannot state that the future will resemble the past in terms of the allegedly pragmatic nature of induction without using induction. We might cut out the heart of a virgin every year to keep the world from ending and proclaim that the practice obviously works, but few (I hope none reading this) will accept the claim.
Scientific Knowledge Impossible
We must be very clear about what Mitch is stating with regard to science. If he is consistent, we cannot know anything through science, not even with probability. Thankfully he seems to understand this as opposed to most people who tout the “falsifiability” line while overlooking its origins. Mitch writes that “Scientific theories cannot be supported, but they can be corroborated by virtue of their falsifiability.” Again, notice that we cannot have knowledge through science. He goes on to explain what he means by theories being corroborated. He writes, “That is to say, the better of two theories will be the one which has been subjected to more falsification attempts and has not yet been falsified”. I find the assertion that a theory somehow becomes more certain through more testing dubious and the assertion that a theory which has undergone more tests is the better theory dubious as well.
Interestingly, Mitch does not apply Popper’s method outside the realm of science. He is thus left clinging to a pragmatic attempt at justifying induction and Popper’s problem filled method in the realm of science. He is right that I do not find his proposed solutions very convincing. By his own admission, he cannot know anything through science and is unreasonable in his use of induction. After all the fuss that has been made it turns out that Mitch falls right back into the grip of the Problem of Induction. Why does Mitch expect his next glass of water to remain water anymore than he expects it to turn into merlot?
Failed Attack On Christianity
As for the remainder of Mitch’s response, it relies heavily upon continued misunderstandings or misrepresentations of presuppositionalism. The argument is presuppositional in nature and epistemology revelational. The God of the Bible has communicated to us. The Word of God is the final authority, it cannot be held up to a higher authority. The Word of God is the ultimate presupposition, as opposed to proximate. God does not change, does not lie, governs the world and hence justifies our use of induction through causing creation to exhibit non-absolute regularities and fashioning our minds in such a way that they function in accordance with the operations of nature with the result that we come to know His world though not necessarily with certainty. If Mitch wants to argue with someone who claims to have some different presupposition then he should go elsewhere. It is not only impossible for me to give up my presupposition as has been clearly shown in the confusion Mitch offers in response to an old problem of philosophy, it would also be sinful for me to do so.
Mitch is showing himself to be incapable of rejecting my worldview without losing his claims to knowledge and rationality. He is also exhibiting inconsistencies which are indicative of failed argument. Having made this clear I would call upon Mitch to turn from his would-be lordship over himself and submit instead to the Lordship of Christ Jesus of Scripture who upholds the universe by His power, was crucified for sins, buried, and raised again on the third day in accordance with Scripture. There is forgiveness for sins of foolishness in Christ the Lord.