Since the 1930s a new philosophical direction developed almost without recognition of the public. Since then it gained in importance, till it has reached quite recently the predominant role. While this philosophical movement was in the beginning described as Logical Empiricism, or Neopositivism it is nowadays much more accurately described bas Analytical Philosophy. It conducts language and notion analysis on the basis of logic. Gaining popularity in the last years it has altered and even erased some old concepts of classical philosophy.
– Vienna Circle
The Vienna circle was a philosophical school in Vienna that contained around 20 philosophy professors and students. Almost all participants were also natural scientists, most often physics. They met regularly for almost 14 years, from 1922 till 1936.
Most argue that the Vienna circle believed in logical positivism. Aim of their thoughts was to develop or decide upon precise criteria to evaluate the validity of philosophical methods. While this was already achieved in mathematics, this was still necessary for physics and a range of other sciences, because they based their knowledge on only probable insights, which they incorporated as givens in their respective theories.
One of the main results out of the Vienna circle was the conviction that all sciences, including philosophy should only be allowed to draw its conclusion from empirical evidence, and that only out of this data scientific theories should be derived. This also excluded metaphysic as a source on which academic work could be based. Another statement of the group is it’s believe that there is no ignorabism. That means that there is nothing that we cannot know. If we can clearly ask a question, then there must be a clear answer. Therefore it makes no sense to talk about unsolvable problems. In their mind unsolvable problems are not unsolvable because their solution lies in an area inaccessible to us, but rather due to the fact, that they actually are no real problems.
In total the Vienna circle produced about 10. 000 pages. However they did not all cover the same spectrum. Next to the philosophy of science they also covered for example socialist topics.
Today the Vienna circle is viewed as a heterogeneous movement consisting of independently thinking scientists that came together for different projects, working on a scientific view on the world, congregating in an alliance of the kindred spirited.
Leading personalities of the Vienna circle were the physicist Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), the mathematician Hans Hahn (1879-1934), the economist Otto Neurath (1882-1945), and the physicist Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970). Meetings began 1922 with 10 people after Moritz Schlick was called upon the professorship: “ Philospphy, especially the history of the inductive science.” The meetings were held every Thursday evening at a building of the Vienna University. Letters, books, and articles were presented, read, and critical questions discussed. Schlick, as the moderator, lead most discussion in the mould of Socrates, who was form him an inspiring example. On the 22nd of June 1936 Moritz Schlick was shot by an earlier doctoral candidate of his. Although the murder was apparently not politically motivated, it was welcomed by the Nazi regime as Schlick was a sympathizer of Jews, as he described being Jewish as being a-metaphysic, and therefore Schick was a thorn in the Nazis side. With the murder the Vienna circle was ended, and soon afterwards many earlier participants fled the country due to the political situation.
In the first years the Vienna circle did not exists as a corpus, but rather as of individuals with varying opinions. This changed first on yearly meeting of the German-mathematician-association in Prague, in the year 1929. Here members of the Vienna circle dominated the philosophical lectures. Their aim was to convince the scientists that modern physics was overthrowing some of the old philosophical principles, for example because of Einstein’s relativity theory Kant’s conception that the Euclidean geometry and the absolute time a priori were forms of our physical perception had become unsustainable. Another example of quantum mechanics refuting Kant’s findings was his principle of causality. It had been shown that specific single events in the atomic dimension were not predictable, even if there was perfect knowledge about all initial conditions.
The above described theories of the Vienna cycle about the empirical basis for scientific work show in the first instance only negative consequences for the scientific praxis, as they lead to the elimination of metaphysic results in science and criticise scientific practices on a broad level. This however was not the only, and also not the most important goal of the Vienna circle. The positive side of the programmatic of the Vienna circle was the idea that in the context of protocol sentences, formal logic, and science history, and science sociology a rational reconstruction of sciences could build a foundation for a new encyclopaedia of science that could be used interdisciplinary and would help in the international conveyance and coordination of scientists all around the world. This new encyclopaedia should have replaced the old systems of philosophy and should only be based on the resources of the respective sciences. Because of the idea to assemble all sciences in this encyclopaedia its methods had to be flexible and open enough to allow for all the disparities in the different sciences to be depicted undistorted.
One of the main promoters of the project was Otto Neurath. He was especially qualified for the work on this project, because he had the necessary scientific historical knowledge and sensibility that such a project required, that could because of its scope not only be a pure logical endeavour. Neurath was able to start the project and gather enough followers on several conferences to start the project of creating an international encyclopaedia of the unitary sciences. He even prepared the publication of the first two introductory volumes of the encyclopaedia. However Neurath was stopped by the outbreak of world war two and died in in 1945. After the war the introductory volumes were published but without large group of scientists devoted to the project it was never taken any further. Till today the idea of an encyclopaedia of the unitary sciences remains a desideratum.
1. 3Theory of Science / Difference Between Induction and Deduction
Many scientists struggle to answer the question of how to develop a logical theory of confirmation and evidence. What all scientists agree upon is that there are two basic aspects that are included in all approaches to solve this problem of finding a logical theory of confirmation: a theory and a high number of empirical observations. Those two elements should be linked in a way that the outcome is reliable and valid. However, scientists did not agree on the importance and the timely order of both elements (Kantowitz, Roediger, & Elmes, 2005, p. 10). They are especially concerned of whether observations are reliable enough to confirm a theory and how or to which degree observations can actually confirm such a theory. They found two options: deduction and induction. Which one to use depends on how the premises are linked to the conclusion and to which degree they support the conclusion.
Most social research involves both inductive and deductive reasoning tools and processes. But what are their differences and when to use which form? When applying deductive reasoning, the researcher begins with a general theory which was set up by him- or herself and with a broad set of information. Further, a hypothesis is developed which should be tested by a high number of observations. In the end, the observer attempts to come to specific conclusions drawn from observations via linking them to the tested hypotheses. Thus, this approach is called “ top-down” due to the fact that a theory is stated first and then observations are done to confirm the theory (Babbie, 2001, pp. 21-23).
Inductive reasoning follows a reverse structure: It does not develop a theory in the first step which then should be tested by observations. Instead, in the beginning a specific number of observations are conducted from which patterns are analyzed. In return to that, a hypothesis should be concluded and result in a general theory. Thus, a theory is developed by observation patterns, a “ bottom-up” approach (= generalization) (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p. 39).
Deductions are narrower in nature than inductions as a certain theory is already developed beforehand and thus, its derived hypothesis only needs to be tested and confirmed. On the other hand, inductions are more open-ended and exploratory as those start with broad observations from which specific patterns are perceived and reduced to a certain theory.
Deductive logic contains formal rules that make an argument valid. The following example by Socrates is probably the most famous one of deduction:
Our writers will create one from scratch for
Premise 2: Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Knowing that this statement is valid, we also know that the following argument is valid as well (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p. 41):
Premise 1: All ravens are black.
Premise 2: “ A” is a raven.
Conclusion: Therefore, “ A” is black.
As both stated arguments are valid and are designed in the same structure, one can conclude that there must be some kind of formula when used makes every argument valid:
Premise 1: All F’s are G’s.
Premise 2: Q is an F.
Conclusion: Therefore, Q is a G.
In the case of deduction, it is possible to develop certain formulas to ensure the validity of each single argument which use this form. Thus, the actual content of the argument does not matter and is exchangeable in the deductive form. Therefore, one is able to conclude generalizations from deduction. Hence, if the all premises are true, the conclusion must necessarily also be true. Concluding, one may say that deduction is conforming to the rules of logical inference (Goodman, 1983, p. 63).
The question is now how inductive validity works and if it also contains certain formulas that ensure validity of the arguments and therefore, can be generalized:
Observation: All the swans observed so far have been white.
Conclusion: Therefore, all swans are white.
In fact, inductions do not give guarantees for the truth of an argument. Observations are used for generalizations, but the result is never valid. In the case of the white swans, there can also be black swans. Only the fact that all observed swans so far have been white, does not a 100% ensure that all other swans in the world are white as well. Therefore, a conclusion derived by an induction should rather be formulated as “ probably, all swans are white“. Furthermore, there exists a sub-form of induction, projection. When using the projection approach, one makes a prediction of the next observation (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p. 42). In this case the example would look like this:
Observation: All the swans observed so far have been white.
Conclusion: Therefore, the next swan is white as well.
However, this argument is not valid either based on the same argumentation as for general induction. David Hume was one of the criticizers of inductive validity and questioned whether “ anything about the past gives us good information about what will happen tomorrow” (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, p. 40). Thus, the scientist addressed the question if the observation of only white swans in the past tells us anything about observations of the color of swans in the future. Even if it is very probable that swans will also be white in future, there is nothing that ensures such thing.
2The New Riddle of Induction
2. 1The old Problem (Hume)
At this point, the English philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) must find further mentioning, since he was one of the main criticizers of inductive validity. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Hume started studying English literature, languages and natural philosophy at the age of ten . As a second born son, Hume’s parents could scare up only meagre financial support for the studies of their son. Therefore, Hume decided to move to France to study at the Jesuit College where Descartes and Marsenne had studied before him at the age of 23. There, he started working on his first book, ‘ A Treatise of Human Nature’, the source of his critique on induction. In this book, David Hume took up the arguments of Englishman and philosopher John Locke, who took an opposite position to Cartesian rationalism. Thus, John Locke held the opinion that knowledge was derived from experience, and moreover “ All significant knowledge is a posteriori (based on experience) and a priori knowledge is either non-existent or tautological” (Spilane, 2007, p. 244). Based on this assumption, Hume argued that something he referred to as ‘ I’ “(mind, psyche, self, soul, personality) cannot be found in experience and so cannot be known directly” (Spilane, 2007, p. 245). The basic idea for this assumption is stated in Hume’s Treatise, where he stated that emotions like pain, pleasure or joy were not to exist next to each other, but to succeed one another. Consequently, one cannot make an inference about the mind, since it cannot be proved .
This position of Hume is based on his differentiation between impressions and ideas. Accordingly, an impression is understood as something vivid like the stitch of a needle, whereas an idea is nothing more but an image of the experienced impression a person projects when thinking about it at some point later (Spilane, 2007, p. 245). Thus, an impression must occur before an idea in order to be turned into an idea. Complex ideas grow out of simple ones in a process of association by attaching ideas to one another. Based on this distinction, Hume came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as ‘ I’ (mind or personality). Rather, it is only a “ bundle of disparate ideas which are brought to contiguity when we mull over our experiences” (Spilane, 2007, p. 246). Translating this understanding allows for the statement that in Hume’s eyes, human knowledge is nothing more than the description of different ideas, and complex ideas are built based on contiguity or resemblance.
Therefrom, Hume turned to the topic of causation and induction, which can be found in his book ‘ A Treatise of Human Nature’. Here, it is important to notice though that Hume did not directly address the term “ induction’, but was rather concerned with causal connections” . Having immersed himself in the works of modern philosophers, David Hume concluded they were struggling to avoid the same mistakes ancients did. In his eyes, it was modern philosophers who failed to ‘ have cured themselves of their passion for hypotheses and systems’ .
The topic of causation: Taking Hume’s assumption that the ‘ I’ is only a gathering of ideas, it follows that causation is only the description of our ideas on something, but we cannot know if this holds true or not, as the following example shows:
All F’s observed were followed by G. Hence, observing a new F will cause us to believe that this F will be followed by G as well .
Independently of the likelihood of this argument to become true or not, one can never be entirely sure whether this causation, which is based on a past-based expectation, will always be conjoined in the future.
This inevitably leads to the problem of induction, where Hume asks “ What logical justification can there be for the belief that the future will be like the past?” (Spilane, 2007, p. 247). Accordingly to Hume’s belief as to there be no such thing as a mind, one can hold that there is no logical justification that the future will remain the past. In Hume’s opinion, people do only believe in certain observations to hold true in the future, since it is only natural to the human being to believe that something that has repeated in the past will do so in the future. Thus, Hume’s problem of induction implies that generalization from facts in order to produce a theory includes the movement beyond facts, and therefore is of the theory (Spilane, 2007, p. 247).
2. 2Projectable Predicates (law-like statements, the concept ” grue”)
This is the point where Goodman’s New Riddle comes into play as this also negates the possibility of a formal rule for inductive validity. Goodman’s approach to the problem will be explained later on in more detail.
3Responses / Critic
Chapter three discusses the content of Goodman’s New Riddle and the three basic problems some philosophers have pointed out. The importance for business of Goodman’s New Riddle is discussed and a conclusion is offered.
3. 1 Goodman’s New Riddle – Content
Goodman was not convinced that the logical empiricists had a good understanding of the way that confirmation and induction work. He disagreed with the idea that induction and confirmation could be treated using a purely formal theory. Finally, his disagreement was based on the problem of restrictions, but the Goodman’s riddle can only be understood by starting at the beginning. The main difference between Goodman and the logical empiricists were his beliefs that confirmation is possible and that induction is a workable concept. A purely formal theory of confirmation was a useful perspective to take. A formal theory would assume that if we know that the premise of an argument is true, it naturally follows that the conclusion is true. The deductive nature of the argument in the preceding statement shows that the form of the argument determines the truth or non-truth, but what about the content? The content takes a backseat to the pattern of deductive reasoning, and that can be seen in the following format for deductive reasoning.
All D’s(f) are E.
z is a D
z is E.
Two restrictions must be applied to the argument above.
1) A definite class of objects or definite properties are chosen.
2) The terms always retain the same meaning from the beginning to the end of the argument.
Goodman’s riddle clearly points out the problem of how to determine whether the inductive statements in an argument are ‘ law-like’ or ‘ accidental statements.’ GRUE is a word used to describe an object that holds certain features in order to demonstrate Goodman’s new riddle of induction (that deductive reasoning is restricted to particular paramenters..
GRUE describes an object that is first observed before 2012(2013) and is red (green); or is not observed before 2012 (2013 and it is blue.
(a) The premise that N rubies are red concludes that all rubies are red.
(b) N rubies are grue, so all rubies are grue
A contradiction is identified according to Goodman that (a) rubies observed after 2012 will be red: and appears intuitively valid. On the other hand, (b) predicts that the ruby will be green so that the argument is invalid. The example shows that one can only use a hypothesis that follows a law in order to end up with a indisputable confirmation of the argument.
3. 2Goodman’s New Riddle – Importance
The importance of Goodman’s New Riddle is explained on the basis of language, disjunctive definition and the problem that red is simple but g rue is complex. The language (the words) used to begin an argument is essential to whether or not the induction is bad or good. The word ‘ grue’ can be substituted for red and green. Time is linked to language and the concept of time is relative to the language used. Grue adds the dimension of time as well as color to the object. The addition of time equals the addition of ocmpexity. Some philosophers are uncomfortable with Goodman’s New Riddle based on the three general arguments.
1) The root of the concept of using grue rests on the type of language used to start an argument,
2) the ‘ disjunctive definition’ of grue, and
3) the addition of complexity.
The following chapter explains how added complexity in the form of observations and time are good for business.
The conclusion uses the preceding discussion to show the usefulness of Induction and Goodman’s New Riddle for business predictions. The Vienna Circle of philosophers contained many individuals from the natural sciences who recognized a need to use empirical methods. They also believed that there was nothing that could not be known. Goodman was influenced by the Vienna circle’s papers. Goodman compared deductive reasoning to inductive reasoning as a way of introducing Goodman’s Riddle. The concept ‘ grue’ is used to prove that ‘ projectable predicates’ in the form of law-lake statements are not practical in deductive reasoning. Therefore, inductive reasoning is the best method for business use. Inductive reasoning includes the concepts of observation and time.
4. 1Strength of the Riddle
The importance of the Riddle is pointing out that induction is a better strategy than deduction to make predictions. Predicting future behaviour is based on time, so in order to make the correct predictions inductive reasoning is important. Firstly, an observation is made. An observation can be that many people shop early for Christmas. And then the observation should identify a pattern of behaviour that can be used to develop a hypothesis. If many people shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving then many people do their Christmas shopping early if they have a vacation day. Generally, a business might generalize that early shoppers target the Friday after Thanksgiving for buying Christmas gifts and so the business should have really good sales that day. The fourth step is to verify or falsify the hypothesis. In the case of early Christmas shoppers shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the hypothesis was verified and is now a tradition known as Black Friday.
For example, the Friday after Thanksgiving is when many people do a lot of Christmas shopping, so many people may prefer shopping early for Christmas on a vacation day. Time is integral to coming up with any useful prediction, based on observations.
4. 2Induction for business
At first the concept of induction along with the Goodman’s New Riddle can seem to be a waste of time when intuition can work just as well. This is not the case. In order to predict the behaviour of consumers in the future, observed data is needed. And the concept of time must realistically be added because the desired solution is in the future so time cannot be ignored. The careful use of induction can enhance a business’s understanding of their customers and help build profits.
Goodman’s New Riddle is an important concept to remember in business; otherwise deductive reasoning used in the wrong place will cause failure instead of allowing an individual to meet their business goals.
Babbie, E. (2001). The Practice of Social Research (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson.
Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003). Theory and Reality: an introduction to the philosophy of science. University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London.
Goodman, N. (1983). Fact, Fiction, and Forecast (4th ed.). Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts and London.
Kantowitz, B. H., Roediger, H. L., & Elmes, D. G. (2005). Experimental psychology: Understanding psychological research (8th ed.). Monterey, CA: Wadsworth.