The Grue Problem

The grue problem has long been an issue in the world of Philosophy. Began by Nelson Goodman, the grue problem has posed a problem on the matter of inductive reasoning. The grue problem begins with the study of conclusions. Most conclusions are derived from hypotheses with premises proven true or correct. A given conclusion becomes wrong if any one of the premises utilized to prove it is found wrong. This is in the case of deductive reasoning, the typically used type of reasoning. The other type of reasoning is inductive reasoning, in which the grue problem revolves.

Inductive reasoning refers to reasoning wherein two given items, no matter how different but having some properties similar are then similar. For instance, a notebook and a book both are made of paper, which were harvested from felled trees, may be considered the same within the rules of inductive reasoning. This would have answered many questions and made explaining things and phenomena easier. However, the grue problem presented by goodman made a crack on this reasoning.

From the word itself, the grue problem is an original and personal argument of Goodman against the effectiveness of inductive reasoning. It tries to explain that the concept behind inductive reasoning will not work as it is expected.

Goodmans premise
The grue problem revolves around the gem emerald. It is common knowledge that emeralds are naturally green in color. All emeralds are green. However, Goodman argues that not all emeralds are not green, but are actually grue. The question now is what is grue. Grue  is presented as a color combination. It is the combination of green and blue, and according to Goodman, this is the real color of emeralds. He explains his claim by this.

Following the reasoning of induction, one emerald which is considered green may serve as the representative of all emeralds. Since all emeralds have the same properties then an emerald considered green makes all other emeralds green, whether it was mined from the another side of the world. As long as it is an emerald by classification, it is still green. Goodmans argument now is that an object is grue if and only if it was observed before the 2020 AD. This points that as long as the object had been discovered within the years before 2020 may be considered grue. Thus, an emerald may be grue and other emeralds, having the same property as the one used as representative are also grue. However, more widely accepted reality is that emeralds are green. Thus, Goodman asks the questions, why not not grue

This is then the problem in inductive reasoning. Given that a conclusion is derived based on one hypothesis and given the nature of the object involved, the same conclusion may then be pasted to the other objects or events involved. This points that there is no steady evidence to support the conclusion.

Grue Problem implies problem in inductive reasoning
The argument of Goodman may have burst the bubbles of philosophers, but it also posed a good question. It helped in identifying that inductive reasoning is merely defeasible justification. Defeasible points to breakable or may easily be contradicted. Conclusions derived from inductive reasoning are weaker as compared to those derived from deduction. Deduction involves pieces of evidence and these evidence support the hypothesis. Whenever a mistake is found in the conclusion derived then it is easier to just go back to the premises or the evidence provided. The evidence and the premise may be reinvestigated. Any mistake within the premise may be corrected in order for the conclusion to be corrected. This is not the case in inductive reasoning.

There are no evidence and there is only one premise. Thus, any conclusion does not have enough support to stand alone. It may easily be broken by two things. First, by addition of premise. Addition of premise, means added support for the hypothesis. While modification of premise may correct a deductive reasonings conclusion, it may diffuse a conclusion for inductive reasoning. The second one is the existence of another evidence. Even though a conclusion has already been declared, sudden presentation of new evidence may easily break the conclusion. As much as an evidence can make or repair a conclusion in deductive reasoning, it can completely destroy a conclusion in inductive reasoning. The justification is definitely defeasible because of these two factors.

Apart from this, there is the possibility of having a different conclusion
 if another proposition is suggested. For instance, the green emeralds will no longer be green alone if someone intrudes into the picture and claims it is actually not green. There is a possibility that it is indeed grue given that Goodman provided a new proposition. Since there is no need for evidence and reliable premise in inductive reasoning, the new proposition can be possible as well. Then, if another philosopher comes in and claims that the reasoning does not follow then the conclusion is once again changed according to the new proposition of the new philosopher. Hence, there is not one and definite or stable conclusion.

It may then be conclude that inductive reasoning as compared to deductive reasoning is less reliable. Inductive reasoning does not employ enough support for a hypothesis, making all possible conclusions shaky and less credible. Unlike deductive reasoning, it does not employ evidence. Thus, all conclusions have not enough support on which to  stand. All justifications or reasoning then become indefinite and defeasible. This makes all conclusions possibly wrong and unreliable. This is the problem in inductive reasoning.

The grue problem introduced by Nelson Goodman is merely an effective illustration of the mistake a philosopher may make in relying on inductive reasoning. It points that the possibility for emeralds to be green given the premise that one of them is green and they have the same qualities is vague and does not follow. If it does then upon declaration that one of them is grue and they all have the same properties, then the all of them is grue. It successfully conveyed the flaw of inductive reasoning.

The problem also implied that inductive reasoning is merely used as a pervasive justification. As may be noticed, most of peoples beliefs are justified by inductive reasoning. While archaeologists and historians try their best to uncover proofs of current beliefs, it is still obvious that most of the aspects of culture were based on one action done or phenomenon in the olden days with the same nature as of today. Thus, it is concluded that this action is appropriate on a certain situation. Although the evidence is vague and the proof seem to be non-existent.

In addition,  if there is evidence pointing to the reality of a conclusion based on inductive reasoning, it is still not enough to prove the conclusion correct or following a good logic. It must be remembered that in inductive reasoning, existence of evidence merely proves an indefinite conclusion. Existence or presentation of another evidence may only point to another conclusion and completely delete the initial proposal. Thus, there is no other way but to indicate that inductive reasoning may be an easy way to justify an action, event, or occurrence, however, the less effort exerted only results to a less stable conclusion, which is not good for instances when a point needs to be proven. The Grue problem of Nelson Goodman was a good way to show the flaws of this reasoning.


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