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Tuesday 7 August 2018

What is Science 3

What is Science 3

Induction and Abduction in Western Science

Abduction is relevant to western science as it is the method that is used in arriving at “axioms” that explain generalized observations through induction.  We may call it the scientific method if such description is needed. However, in western science, there are two stages. In the first stage observations and induction take place in that order, and in the second stage abduction and observations take place in that order. Having said that it has to be emphasized that in the first stage the observations are dependent on theory or one’s beliefs, and that the observations could have been proceeded by thoughts. There are neither observations independent of conceptions, nor perceptions without conceptions, and the idea of perceptions without conceptions stem again from the dualities in western Chinthanaya.  

In western science it is said that the observations are important, but in Cosmology and modern Theoretical Physics the ideas are considered to be supreme. The symmetry of theories, Mathematical consistency and beauty whatever it means, have become very important. It is as if the Universes or Multiverses have been created Mathematically, and one may be inclined to think that God is a Mathematician, assuming that God exists.

Western science is very much concerned with observations but observations of multiverse is beyond the capacity of the scientists. It is only an idea, and Mathematics is all about ideas arrived at by induction or by construction. Axioms in Euclidean Geometry have been arrived at by induction, while those of Non- Euclidean Geometry are constructions. What I mean by Mathematics, is what is sometimes known as Pure Mathematics, excluding anything that goes as Applied Mathematics.  However, this does not mean that ideas exist independent of observations, when sensory perceptible conceptions are considered.

In the second stage, we said that abductions and observations take place in that order. The guesses are made to explain the generalized observations from the first stage, and having made guesses or “axioms” observations are usually carried out in order to arrive at an “axiom” that works. The word ‘usually’ has been used as it is not the case with multiverses and string theory. 

In western science induction is called into play in generalizing from a limited number of observations of a property of a sample(s) to the entire population very often infinite in numbers. These are usually abstract inductions. A good example is the falling of objects to the earth.

Newton would have observed some apples falling when released from the trees. What he did was to generalize this experience to all objects (not merely apples) near the earth, and to make the generalized statement that all objects near the earth fall to the earth when released. That was abstract induction, and the population was the objects near the earth.  Then of course he had the problem of the moon that did not fall.

This is the first stage of western science. The population is identified, samples are considered, some property of the sample(s) is observed, and the property is generalized to the entire population, very often of infinite number of members. With respect to populations with infinite number of members we are dealing with abstractions.

As can be seen in induction it is assumed that the relevant property is common to the entire population. As has been said induction belongs to rationalism in western Philosophy. In western science it is assumed that with respect to a certain property the entire population behaves the same way.  This is nothing but another “axiom”.

In the second state scientists attempt to give an “explanation” of the generalized abstract observation. This is where abduction comes in. Abduction is guessing and nothing else. It belongs to rationalism in western Philosophy and by abduction scientists arrive at “axioms”. In guessing it is assumed again that the “axiom” applies to the entire population.

Why do the objects near the earth fall to the earth? Newton had an answer to the question. Others might have given different answers to the question, which did not work. Finally, it was Newton’s guess on gravitation that worked.

However, it did not work for the entire population. The moon does not fall. Newton could have excluded the moon from the population by taking the moon not to be near enough to the earth. However, he did not do that, as he wanted his guess to be universal, and gave an explanation as to why the moon does not fall to the earth. It was with his laws of motion and by considering circular motion.

Newton’s guess could be considered as an abstract generalization valid for any two objects in the universe. However, it has to be mentioned that Newton did not explain how this force operates, and it was nothing but spooky action at a distance, if we use a later expression by Einstein with respect to Quantum Mechanics.

Abductions are guesses, and the scientists go on guessing until they come across a guess that works. However, these guesses are culture dependent, and abstract. Very often, it is those scientists in cultures that help abstract thinking who come out with successful abstract guesses. The guesses are made in a certain paradigm in Thomas Kuhn’s sense, and when a guess cannot be made in the existing paradigm, the scientist has to make a guess with respect to the paradigm as well. Paradigms are also guessed and guessing of a new paradigm is considered as revolutionary science by Kuhn. 

A paradigm prescribes the Game Rules that have to be adhered to in making guesses of “axioms”. A change of paradigm or paradigm shift is a change of the Game Rules. In the Newtonian paradigm all velocities were relative to the so-called inertial frames, but in Einsteinian paradigm this rule was changed, and the velocity of light remained constant in all so-called inertial frames of reference.  

“Axioms” and paradigms are guessed in a culture. Both Newtonian paradigm and the Einsteinian paradigms were created in western Judaic Christian culture, while Quantum Mechanics was created outside Judaic Christian culture with its Aristotelian Logic. Bohr who was a pioneer in creating Quantum Mechanics was influenced by Ying -Yang idea in Chinese culture.

Any guess is subject to correction, and would not hold for the entire population for all situations. Guesses, and hence “axioms” which are sometimes called theories, are valid only for limited cases. It can be said that the guesses work only for a limited number of cases, approximately, and one should expect them to fail in some cases. This is somewhat similar to Popper’s falsification, and guesses or “axioms” or theories are subject to falsification, after particularization as explained below. The guesses are never right but only “work” under certain circumstances. However, an “axiom” is not thrown away, simply because one of its particularization does not work. It is used wherever it works, leaving aside the case when it does not work. The theory of gravitation due to Newton was not thrown away just because its particularization with respect to the orbits of the planets around the sun did not work. It is still used wherever it works.

This is based on pragmatism, and abduction is based on pragmatism as a Philosophy. It does not come as a surprise to note that abduction was introduced in US that follows a pragmatic philosophy. Quantum Mechanics, though not “understood” by western scientists within their culture continues to be used for its pragmatic features in western science mainly because US is the dominant force in science today.