chapter  10
23 Pages

Hans Reichenbach and Karl Popper: The (in)dispensability of induction

In his well known 'shilling shocker' of 1912 – The Problems of Philosophy - Bertrand Russell included a chapter on inductive arguments. He claimed that such arguments are relevant not only to our confidence in ordinary common-sense beliefs, like the belief that the Sun rises every day, that bread is nourishing, etc., but also that they are relevant to scientific beliefs. We use inductive reasoning, he said, to justify 'the general principles of science, such as the belief in the reign of law, and the belief that every event must have a cause' (Russell 1912: 38). For Russell, then, an adequate defence of induction was central to the defence of the rationality of reasoning in science. And he retained this basic approach in later books such as the 1948 volume, Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits.