The Philosophy of Science

“What connection between an observation and a theory makes that observation evidence for the theory” (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p.39)? Herein, I shall argue that although science fails to provide certainty and reliability in confirming scientific hypotheses, a theory of confirmation is not impossible. what is impossible is to model a scientific theory of confirmation to that of a formal theory of confirmation. In this light, despite the problems induction poses, confirming scientific hypotheses is necessarily inductive.

Given this, I shall divide my paper into four main parts. The first part will discuss the problem of confirmation in relation to induction. Herein, I shall discuss David Hume’s (1978) problem of induction, a theory closely related to the problem of confirming scientific hypotheses. The second part will discuss the theory of confirmation in relation to scientific explanations. Herein, Carl Hempel’s (1965) model for scientific explanation will be emphasized. In the third section, I shall focus on Nelson Goodman’s (1983) “new riddle of induction.” Herein, I shall emphasize on Goodman’s distinction between a theory of confirmation, to that of a “formal theory of confirmation.” In this section, I shall discuss the problems that induction poses to confirming scientific hypotheses, as well as the implications of eliminating an inductive approach towards confirmation. Finally, the fourth section will consist of my stand and conclusion regarding the said problem.

“The confirmation of theories is closely connected to another classic issue in philosophy: the problem of induction” (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p. 39). Scientists reason inductively in order to confirm their hypotheses. But does it mean to reason inductively? An Inductive argument, on the other hand, is one wherein even if the premises are true, the conclusion can only be probably true. For example The swan I saw last Monday was white. The swan I saw last Tuesday was white.