ANTI-INDUCTIONISM (Greek ’αντι- [anti]—against, in comparison to something; Latin inductio—introduction, induction, supposition)—a program in the study of science for interpreting the research procedures, tasks, and methods of the natural sciences, as opposed to inductionism. The terms “inductionism” and “anti-inductionism” are derived from the term “induction” understood in a narrow sense as simple enumeration. This restriction in meaning avoids the need to call inductionistic all the positions that respect the role of induction in science.
The critical parts of the anti-inductionist program contains a critique of inductionism and the inductive method. The positive part formulates a program of scientific research and contains a description of what is held to be the correct scientific procedure which should be the method for advancing and criticizing hypotheses. Hence this position is called anti-inductionism and hypothesism.
Anti-inductionism’s critique is aimed at the conception of the inductive method and verificationism. According to this conception the mind passively gathers and segregates observations. Meanwhile, neither non-scientific nor scientific cognition consists in gathering and generalizing the results of observations without the guidance of some theory. Experiments performed in science are guided by determined problems and presuppose theories that interpret the findings of observation. The requirement also applies to pre-scientific observation directed by resolved problems and general knowledge such as it is found that takes the form of so-called expectations, which in turn take the form of theories at the level of so-called advanced scientific knowledge. Observation is selective and is preceded methodologically by hypotheses. Facts are anticipated by scientific investigations.
Verificationism is questioned, because inductive proof does not provide an adequate foundation for recognizing statements as true. Even the best verified general statement remains hypothetical. Such a statement must be constantly subjected to attempts at refutation. It is not enough to show an agreement between a theory and the established empirical facts in order to show that the theory is true or highly probable.
Anti-inductionism methodologically accents the important circumstance in accordance with which none of the well-constructed theories are in agreement with all known facts or explain all the phenomena within their scope of application. Thus the indication of agreement between a theory and experience, which is an essential component of verification, is not the only element of verification. No less important in knowledge is the desire to discover such disagreements between a theory and facts that cannot be aside without rejecting or modifying one of the existing theoretical systems.
Anti-inductionism leads to a skeptical attitude among the majority of contemporary methodologists to varieties of verificationism as a conception that professes the positive verification of hypotheses but at the same time disregards the application of sound procedures of refutation.
The negative fragment of the content of anti-inductionism contains three elements: (1) the results of observation and the conclusions based on them are both dependent upon the accepted conceptual apparatus of a given language and upon the decision that not only scientific theories but also statements of observation are not univocally indicated by experience. The division of terms into observational and theoretical is not a dichotomy, but we must adhere to gradualism: (2) the strictly general statements that occur in science, called laws, possess informative content and a scope of application that goes significantly beyond the sphere of objects included in observations. The degree of confirmation of these statements by witnesses is minimal, which is indicated by the construction of systems of logical induction; (3) many competing statements are equally in agreement with known facts. A selection among them also takes place on the basis of extra-empirical criteria, the so-called criterion of simplicity.
The positive part of the program of anti-inductionism is called hypotheticism. All scientific propositions, including individual propositions and reports are called in Popperism base propositions, and they are hypothetical and can be withdrawn. There are no facts without interpretation, no “pure” or “bare” facts expressed in a theoretically neutral language of observation. The recognition of the theoretical character of the empirical sciences allows one to state that there is an absence of statements that could be withdrawn that would be the empirical basis of science. We do not recognize base sentences on the basis of actually experienced perceptions nor on the basis of presuppositions which evoke no doubts in a given situation of cognition. Base sentences are recognized or rejected only in a certain theoretical framework and this requires us to make a decision that is not univocally indicated by the data of observation. This decision is to a certain degree conventional. According to hypotheticism all statements, including base propositions, are theoretical and can be withdrawn, since the conditions for the truth of every observational proposition include presuppositions not verified by an act of perception. Hypotheticism emphasizes the role of decision and interpretation in the process of recognizing statements.
According to hypotheticism, scientific statements—especially strictly general propositions and non-phenomenalistic theories—are never from this point of view univocally determined by experience. They are not qualified as cognitively valid in view of their high degree of inductive probability based on performed observations. Rather, they constitute one of the possible hypothetical descriptions of the world. The basic task of science is seen as systematization, and so the explanation and prognosis of phenomena together with practical applications of science which allow us to control processes that occur in nature. In science as a hypothetical and correctable undertaking, we are not bound, as the inductionists would suppose, only by the principle of maximum certaintly and the minimalization of the probability of errors. Instead of this, science needs informativeness, richness of content, which is necessary for the hypothetical resolution of interesting theoretical and practical problems.
The method of the empirical sciences that is distinct from the position of anti-inductionism is not the inductive method, but the hypothetical-deductive method, also called the method of setting forth and criticizing hypotheses. An integral component of the method is the deductive derivation from hypotheses of conclusions in the form of predictions, so-called projection, which are subjected to testing procedures. Then the method uses the rule of modus tollens. For this reason a third term is used to name this program—deductionism.
Competing scientific theories conceived temporally consider the development of knowledge. In accordance with evaluation criteria, certain theories among these are gradually eleminated during the development of knowledge, and new theories take their place. A new theory taken hypothetically is not evaluated as highly probable and may turn out to be as false as its predecessor. Of comparable false theories, that theory is closer to the truth which possesses either more true consequences or less false ones. The anti- inductionist interpretation of the natural sciences is anti-phenomenalistic.
K. R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, Lo 1963; J. Giedymin, Problemy, założenia, rozstrzygnięcia [Problems, presuppositions, solutions], Pz 1964; idem, Indukcjonizm i antyindukcjonizm [Inductionism and anti-inductionism], in: Logiczna teoria nauki [Logical theory of science], Wwa 1966, 269–294; J. Kotarbińska, Kontrowersja: dedukcjonizm—indukcjonizm [Controversy: deductionism—inductionism], ibidem, 319–340; K. R. Popper, Logika odkrycia naukowego [Logic of scientific discover], Wwa 1977; J. Such, Wstęp do metodologii ogólnej nauk [Introduction to general methodology of the sciences], Pz 1969; Z. Hajduk, O akceptacji teorii empirycznej [On the acceptance of empirical theory], Lb 1984; J. Kmita, FNE 226–235.