Knowledge or Illusion? In Defence of the Inductive Method

The author presents and discusses the arguments in favour of the inductive method put forward by Francis Bacon in his Aphorisms Concerning The Interpretation Of Nature And The Kingdom Of Man from 1620. He posits these against the hypothetical-deductive method and the falsification principle famously presented by Karl Popper (1934/1959). He finds Popper’s critique of Bacon superficial, and argues that Popper himself was an inductivist in disguise. He also finds an astonishingly clear continuity from Bacon to leading historians in the 20th century, among them the Norwegian historian Jens Arup Seip. Finally, he further exemplifies the fruitfulness of the inductive method and advocates an approach he calls inductively driven research questions.

Keywords: Inductive method, Francis Bacon, deduction, Karl Popper, J.A. Seip