Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Loren Fox
Last updated: September 21, 2019
The main topic being explored here is assumptions in knowledge. An idea or a concept that is thought of to be true in the absence of proof evidence or justification is called an assumption. Many concepts are assumed to be true in multiple fields of study, one of them being economics. The concept of the demand and supply curve both rely on assumptions about the market and numbers in order to make it a linear graph of price and quantity. This concept is also used in mathematical theory. Therefore, in addition to helping explore knowledge, assumptions also allow one to give rise to theories that may be proven later to be true. Uniformities are unchanging ideas that do not depend on any external forces; they will remain the same no matter the circumstances.
However, in this context of knowledge uniformity has a different definition. The statement is absolute in that it expects the complete absence of uniformities to be considered while discussing the possibility of the production and acquisition of knowledge. Given that knowledge is a justified true belief backed up by evidence, the acquisition and justification of knowledge cannot be based on the assumption of a truth, in this case, the existence of uniformities.
Humans are intuitive creatures that make decisions based on past experiences, assuming that the knowledge will remain uniform and the same information will be applicable to future situations. This leads to the knowledge questions or issues like: “To what extent is the belief that one can rely on memory alone justified?” and “On what basis is the production of knowledge and new ideas based?” This paper will focus on natural sciences, mathematics, ethics and the arts. Inductive reasoning is a thought process that involves the application of believed evidence to predict a specific conclusion1. Inductive reasoning lies on the existence of uniformities as the evidence is assumed to be true and applicable to all situations. Uniformity sets the basis for predictability. The word ‘uniformity’ although seemingly easy to define and explain, is more complex than its surface meaning.
The concept is defined as a claim that the laws that govern the existence of nature are consistent throughout all time and space2. For example, scientists must assume that the geological functions that created the earth’s surface are the same processes being carried out in present time. Natural sciences, consisting broadly of chemistry, physics and biology are known to have laws- or rules that govern or explain the functioning of every process or object in that field.
Assuming that this laws apply to every factor involves the assumption of uniformities. Uniformity in nature means that there are no ‘hidden corners’ in the natural world; everything can be explained using science and gaps for God don’t exist. Biblical events like Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace3 could not be possible without following the natural law of thermodynamics. Using this example, it can be proven that uniformity does not account for more supernatural considerations, meaning that for uniformity to be used to explain natural laws, religion and theology must be excluded. While conducting an experiment, one is required to come up with a hypothesis, which is a prediction of what they think the outcome will be based on previously known knowledge. Therefore, scientific theorization, conception and creation would not be possible if nature was non-uniform. However, on the other side, the assumed uniformities could come in conflict with the actual reality, limiting or restricting the knowledge acquisition.
An example of this can be seen in natural sciences, more specifically biology, where there is a role reversal in the reproduction process. Usually, a female species lays eggs or gives birth, but the case of the Syngnathidae family4, this gender role is reversed. The male fertilizes the egg inside a pouch and births them, which goes against the conventional standards. This results in the female species being competitive which conflicts with the normal competitive males, which indicates that evidence is more useful in the production of knowledge than the existence of uniformities. Mathematics is another AOK that proves uniformities are the basis for knowledge acquisition. It involves the use of set formulae and methods to solve problems and these formulae and methods are assumed to be successful in obtaining the same result, the correct result. Math exploration or even creation would only be possible through the assumption that past works can be applied to future ones. The method of differentiation holds true for all polynomial equations that exist.
Criminal laws are regulations set by governments of countries based off certain ethics. Crimes like fraud, theft, murder, embezzlement are not only labeled as immoral but also are punishable by laws. Although laws are based off the majority’s perception of what is ethical, it is found that people still commit these crimes. Here, the assumption of uniformities in ethics has failed to account for the minority few that still choose to disobey the law, demonstrating their differing ethics.
The existence of criminals and criminal psychology is testament to the existence of exceptions despite assumptions in uniformities. Psychologist Kline argues that the acquisition of knowledge of psychological concepts happens through the use of theories and collected firsthand experience rather that laws or facts that are assumed to be true. Therefore, this disproves the statement that knowledge can only be acquired through the assumption of uniformities. In the arts, language also relies on the existence of uniformities like the way tenses have specific endings and the use of grammar rules.
For example: the present continuous tense has the suffix of –ing no matter what the verb is. In the same way, every verb in Spanish ends with an ir, er, or ar with no exceptions. However, it is also possible for there to be exceptions to this. In the case of double oo in the English language, the plural noun would make it an ee, like tooth-teeth, foot-feet, goose-geese. However, the plural of the word moose stays moose, showing that these assumed to be uniform rules are not applicable to all aspects of the language and fail to account for the aforementioned words. Therefore, given the information above, 1 “What is inductive reasoning? – Definition from WhatIs.Com.
” WhatIs.com, whatis.techtarget.com/definition/inductive-reasoning. 2 Stanley, Matthew. “The Uniformity Of Natural Laws In Victorian Britain: Naturalism, Theism, And Scientific Practice.
” Zygon®, vol. 46, no. 3, Dec. 2011, pp. 536–560.
2011.01198.x. 3 “ARAS.
” Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace | ARAS. Accessed December 14, 2017. https://aras.org/concordance/content/nebuchadnezzars-fiery-furnace. 4 ScienceDaily.
Accessed December 14, 2017. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501125451.