A Cartoon on the Problem of Induction

Kids can be so surprisingly philosophical, can’t they?

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal via LogBlog 

Your Thoughts?


About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • cnjnrs

    Just to be a devil’s advocate: presumably the girl was lying and it hadn’t happened that way every time in the past.

    It depends on just how specific a situation you consider, but I think all the possible ways this could have happened every time in the past are unlikely:

    1. Girls and boys make this sort of arrangement all the time, and girls never renege. I am fairly certain this one is easily disproven by counterexample.

    2. This girl and Bobby made the same arrangement multiple times before, and she never reneged before. In this case it hardly seems to matter, as he’s seen it many times.

    3. This girl made the same arrangement with multiple other boys, and she never reneged. This seems out of character for the girl, although perhaps less so if she has just learned what induction is; and then Bobby would be taking her word for it on the evidence, when he might as well have just taken her word for it that she would show him.

    4. Various other girls and Bobby made the same arrangement multiple times before (i.e. with Bobby going first), and none of them ever reneged. I think this is the most plausible explanation, for these reasons: Bobby would have experience to support the induction argument; Bobby would not have to take the girl’s word for it regarding past events; and this girl in particular would seem more likely to renege than other girls her age. However, I am still skeptical that Bobby has been in this situation enough times to claim it is likely to happen the same way again.