Saturday, November 28, 2020

Presuppositionalism and Induction: Exhuming Hume

When apologists raise the problem of induction in their encounters with non-Christians, they apparently expect non-Christians to be freshly familiar with both David Hume and also his argument undermining the reliability of induction. Or at least, to be familiar with the conclusion of an argument which brings the reliability of induction into serious doubt. Either that, or they’re raising the problem of induction in the hopes that their non-Christian sparring partners are not at all versed on matters relating to Hume’s skeptical argument and thus will be easily ensnared by the apologist’s waiting trap.

The former expectation does not seem very realistic. Albeit anecdotally, in my experience, most people I’ve surveyed over the years (many of them very intelligent and well educated individuals) have little or no familiarity with David Hume, let alone with any particular argument he championed. Even among those who took an introductory philosophy course back in junior college, few seem to remember much of anything about Hume.

The latter expectation, or rather hope, strikes me as rather devious and scheming. The problem of induction neatly lends itself as a ready gateway to a god-of-the-gaps style apologetic.