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Summary Inductive skepticism is the view that the use of inductive inference in forming predictions and generalizations is unable to be justified.  Widely associated with David Hume, the basic problem arises from asking how inductive inference is to be justified.  Can it be justified by appeal to previous success in the use of induction?  That would be to employ induction to justifiy itself, which would be circular.  Can induction be justified on the basis of an appeal to logic?  Inductive inferences are non-deductive inferences in which the conclusions transcend the content of the premises.  So logic does not justify induction.  Can induction be justified by appeal to the uniformity of nature?  The uniformity of nature cannot itself be established without an inductive inference from past observation of uniformity.  Moreover, the uniformity of nature is not a matter of deductive logic.  Given the failures of these attempts to justify induction, the conclusion inevitably appears to be that induction is unable to be justified.  Hence we find ourselves in the position of inductive skepticism.
Key works The classic references for inductive skepticism are Hume 2007 and Hume 2000.  Good discussions of the topic may be found in Howson 2000, Salmon 1967 and Skyrms 1975.  For the suggestion that the inability to justify induction need not lead to skepticism, see Popper 1989.
Introductions Vickers 2008.
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  1. Jonathan E. Adler (1975). Stove on Hume's Inductive Scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):167 – 170.
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  2. Scott Aikin (2011). The Regress Argument for Skepticism. In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  3. David J. Alexander (2012). Weak Inferential Internalism is Indistinguishable From Externalism – A Reply to Rhoda. Journal of Philosophical Research 37:387-394.
    In “Weak Inferential Internalism” I defended the frequently voiced criticism that any internalist account of inferential justification generates a vicious regress. My defense involved criticizing a recent form of internalism, “Weak Inferential Internalism” (WII) defended by Hookway and Rhoda. I argued that while WII does not generate a vicious regress, the position is only distinguishable from externalism insofar as it makes an arbitrary distinction between individuals who believe for the very same reason. Either way, WII is not a defensible internalist (...)
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  4. Páll S. Árdal (1986). The Sceptical Realism of David Hume. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):157-162.
  5. N. Scott Arnold (1983). Hume's Skepticism About Inductive Inference. Journal of the History of Philosophy 21 (1):31-56.
    In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Hume's Skepticism about Inductive Inference N. SCOTT ARNOLD IT HAS BEEN A COMMONPLACE among commentators on Hume's philosophy that he was a radical skeptic about inductive inference. In addition, he is alleged to have been the first philosopher to pose the so-called problem of induction. Until recently, however, Hume's argument in this connection has not been subject to very close scrutiny. As attention has become focused on this (...)
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  6. A. J. Ayer (1956). The Problem of Knowledge. Harmondsworth.
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  7. Massimiliano Badino, The Epistemological Root of the Problem of Induction.
    This paper analyzes the epistemological significance of the problem of induction. In the first section, the foundation of this problem is identified in the thesis of gnoseological dualism: we only know our representations as separate from ‘the world itself’. This thesis will be countered by the thesis of gnoseological monism. In the second section, the implications of Hume’s skeptical thesis will be highlighted and it will be demonstrated how the point of view of gnoseological monism can offer a way out (...)
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  8. Greg Bamford (1989). Watkins and the Pragmatic Problem of Induction. Analysis 49 (4):203 - 205..
    Watkins proposes a neo-Popperian solution to the pragmatic problem of induction. He asserts that evidence can be used non-Inductively to prefer the principle that corroboration is more successful over all human history than that, Say, Counter-Corroboration is more successful either over this same period or in the future. Watkins's argument for rejecting the first counter-Corroborationist alternative is beside the point, However, As whatever is the best strategy over all human history is irrelevant to the pragmatic problem of induction since we (...)
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  9. Carol L. Bargeron (2008). On Ghazālīan Epistemology: A Theory. Journal of Islamic Philosophy 4:51-68.
    This work examines, through al-Munqidh, the ways and reasons of al-Ghazālī’s association with skepticism. Was he a skeptic on a Humean model, what was his approach to human knowledge, and what is the nature of al-Ghazālī’s critique of rational knowledge?
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  10. Jared Bates (2005). The Old Problem of Induction and the New Reflective Equilibrium. Dialectica 59 (3):347–356.
    In 1955, Goodman set out to 'dissolve' the problem of induction, that is, to argue that the old problem of induction is a mere pseudoproblem not worthy of serious philosophical attention. I will argue that, under naturalistic views of the reflective equilibrium method, it cannot provide a basis for a dissolution of the problem of induction. This is because naturalized reflective equilibrium is -- in a way to be explained -- itself an inductive method, and thus renders Goodman's dissolution viciously (...)
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  11. Ronald E. Beanblossom (1976). A New Foundation for Humean Scepticism. Philosophical Studies 29 (3):207 - 210.
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  12. Tom L. Beauchamp & Thomas A. Mappes (1975). Is Hume Really a Sceptic About Induction? American Philosophical Quarterly 12 (2):119 - 129.
  13. Martin Bell & Marie McGinn (1990). Naturalism and Scepticism. Philosophy 65 (254):399 - 418.
  14. Christopher Belshaw (1989). Scepticism and Madness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):447 – 451.
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  15. Carlton W. Berenda (1950). A Five-Fold Skepticism in Logical Empiricism. Philosophy of Science 17 (2):123-132.
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  16. Lars Bergström (1993). Quine, Underdetermination, and Skepticism. Journal of Philosophy 60 (7):331-358.
  17. Robert Black (1989). Moral Scepticism and Inductive Scepticism. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 90:65 - 82.
    Viewing moral scepticism as the rejection of objective desirabilities, inductive scepticism may be seen as the rejection of objective believabilities. Moral scepticism leads naturally to amoralism rather than subjectivism, and inductive scepticism undermines not our practices of induction but only a view about justification. The two scepticisms together amount to the adoption of a defensibly narrow, formal view of reason.
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  18. Chen Bo (2012). Justification of Induction: Russell and Jin Yuelin. A Comparative Study. History and Philosophy of Logic 33 (4):353-378.
    Jin Yuelin (1895?1984), a Chinese logician and philosopher, is greatly influenced by Hume's and Russell's philosophies. How should we respond to Hume's problem of induction? This is an important clue to understand Jin's whole philosophical career. The first section of this paper gives a brief historical review of Russell and Jin. The second section outlines Hume's skeptical arguments against causality and induction. The third section expounds Russell's justification of induction by discussing his views on Hume's skepticism, causality, principle of induction, (...)
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  19. Stephen J. Boulter (2002). Hume on Induction: A Genuine Problem or Theology's Trojan Horse? Philosophy 77 (1):67-86.
    In this paper I offer a straight solution to Hume's problem of induction by defusing the assumptions on which it is based. I argue that Hume's problem only arises if we accept (i) that there is no necessity but logical necessity, or (ii) that it is unreasonable to believe that there is any form of necessity in addition to logical necessity. I show that Hume's arguments in favour of (i) and (ii) are unsound. I then offer a suggestion as to (...)
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  20. Harry M. Bracken (2004). The Sceptical Tradition Around 1800. International Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):333-334.
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  21. Harry M. Bracken (2004). Scepticism in the Enlightenment. International Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):252-254.
  22. M. C. Bradley (1959). Mr. Strawson and Skepticism. Analysis 20 (1):14 - 19.
  23. Justin Broackes (1995). Common Sense, Science and Scepticism. Hume Studies 21 (1):138-139.
  24. Keith Campbell (1963). One Form of Scepticism About Induction. Analysis 23 (4):80 - 83.
    The argument of this article is that the use of general terms, And in particular the general term 'generalizations established inductively', Is possible only on the basis of at least weak inductive reasoning. In consequence, Total scepticism concerning induction, The proposition that "no inductive generalization, Of any kind, Is justifiable", Is one of those propositions which are incoherent because their assertion is possible only on the basis of their own falsehood.
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  25. James Cargile (1998). The Problem of Induction. Philosophy 73 (2):247-275.
    No one doubts that philosophers have discussed at length ‘the problem of induction’, but it would also be generally recognized that there would be disagreement as to precisely what that problem is. Rather than tackle the formulation problem, I will borrow from a popular text: Our existence as well as science itself is based on the principle of induction that tells us to reason from past frequencies to future likelihoods, from the limited known of the past and present to the (...)
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  26. Andrew D. Cling (2003). Self-Supporting Arguments. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2):279–303.
    Deductive and inductive logic confront this skeptical challenge: we can justify any logical principle only by means of an argument but we can acquire justification by means of an argument only if we are already justified in believing some logical principle. We could solve this problem if probative arguments do not require justified belief in their corresponding conditionals. For if not, then inferential justification would not require justified belief in any logical principle. So even arguments whose corresponding conditionals are epistemically (...)
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  27. Josep E. Corbi (2000). The Principle of Inferential Justification, Scepticism, and Causal Beliefs. Noûs 34 (s1):377 - 385.
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  28. Josep E. Corbí (2000). The Principle of Inferential Justification, Scepticism, and Causal Beliefs. Philosophical Issues 10 (1):377-385.
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  29. Jonathan Dancy (1984). On the Tracks of the Sceptic. Analysis 44 (3):121 - 126.
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  30. Graciela de Pierris (2006). Hume and Locke on Scientific Methodology. Hume Studies 32 (2):277-329.
    Hume follows Newton in replacing the mechanical philosophy’s demonstrative ideal of science by the Principia’s ideal of inductive proof (especially as formulated in Newton’s Rule III); in this respect, Hume differs sharply from Locke. Hume is also guided by Newton’s own criticisms of the mechanical philosophers’ hypotheses. The first stage of Hume’s skeptical argument concerning causation targets central tenets of the mechanical philosophers’ (in particular, Locke’s) conception of causation, all of which rely on the a priori postulation of a hidden (...)
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  31. William Deangelis (2003). Hume's Scepticism and the Science of Human Nature. Hume Studies 29 (1):150-154.
  32. İlham Dilman (1973). Induction and Deduction. Oxford,B. Blackwell.
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  33. Karánn Durland (2011). Extreme Skepticism and Commitment in the Treatise. Hume Studies 37 (1):65-98.
    At the end of Book 1 of the Treatise,1 Hume encounters a radical skepticism that seems to undermine both his philosophical ambitions and his daily activities, yet he refuses to relinquish either. Although he offers no clear account of how to handle the tension between his doubts and his commitments to philosophy and common life, many strategies for defusing it seem available to him. This paper explores a variety of these tactics. I argue that although many proposals for resolving or (...)
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  34. Brian Ellis (2010). An Essentialist Perspective on the Problem of Induction. Principia 2 (1):103-124.
    If one believes, as Hume did, that all events are loose and separate, then the problem of induction is probably insoluble. Anything could happen. But if one thinks, as scientific essentialists do, that the laws of nature are immanent in the world, and depend on the essential natures of things, then there are strong constraints on what could possibly happen. Given these constraints, the problem of induction may be soluble. For these constraints greatly strengthen the case for conceptual and theoretical (...)
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  35. N. Everitt (2002). HOWSON, C.-Hume's Problem. Induction and the Justification of Belief. Philosophical Books 43 (4):306-306.
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  36. Gerard T. Ferrari (1986). The Resolution of Hume's Problem, and New Russellian Antinomies of Induction, Determinism, Relativism, and Skepticism. Philosophy Research Archives 12:471-517.
    A necessary refinement of the concept of circular reasoning is applied to the self-and-universally-referential inductive justification of induction. It is noted that the assumption necessary for the circular proof of a principle of induction is that one inference is valid, not that the entire principle or rule of induction governing that inference is true. The circularity in an ideal case is demonstrated to have a value of lin where n represents the number of inferences asserted valid by the conclusion of (...)
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  37. Robert J. Fogelin (2009). Hume's Skeptical Crisis: A Textual Study. Oxford University Press.
    Of knowledge and probability: a quick tour of part 3, book 1. Of knowledge ; Of probability; and of the idea of cause and effect ; Why a cause is always necessary? ; Of the component parts of our reasonings concerning causes and effects ; Of the impressions of the senses and memory ; Of the inference from the impression to the idea ; Of the nature of the idea, or belief ; Of the causes of belief ; Of the (...)
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  38. Robert J. Fogelin (2008). Hume's Scepticism. In David Fate Norton & Jacqueline Taylor (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Hume. Cambridge University Press.
  39. Robert J. Fogelin (1985). Hume's Skepticism in the Treatise of Human Nature. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  40. Harvey M. Friedman, Strict Reverse Mathematics.
    An extreme kind of logic skeptic claims that "the present formal systems used for the foundations of mathematics are artificially strong, thereby causing unnecessary headaches such as the Gödel incompleteness phenomena". The skeptic continues by claiming that "logician's systems always contain overly general assertions, and/or assertions about overly general notions, that are not used in any significant way in normal mathematics. For example, induction for all statements, or even all statements of certain restricted forms, is far too general - mathematicians (...)
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  41. Ken Gemes (1997). Inductive Skepticism and the Probability Calculus I: Popper and Jeffreys on Induction and the Probability of Law-Like Universal Generalizations. Philosophy of Science 64 (1):113-130.
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  42. Ken Gemes (1997). Inductive Skepticism and the Probability Calculus I: Popper and Earman on the Probability of Laws. Philosophy of Science 64:113-130.
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  43. Ken Gemes (1989). A Refutation of Popperian Inductive Scepticism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40 (2):183-184.
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  44. Ken Gemes (1983). A Refutation of Inductive Scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):434 – 438.
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  45. D. Goldstick (1993). Laws of Nature and Physical Existents. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7 (3):255 – 265.
    Abstract Nominalists, denying the reality of anything over and above concreta, are committed to a reductive account of any law of nature, explaining its necessity?the fact that it not only holds for all actual instances, but would hold for any additional ones?in, for example, epistemic terms (its likelihood/certainty of holding beyond the already observed instances). Nominalists argue that the world would be no different without irreducible modalities. ?Modal realists? often object that this parallels a common phenomenalist argument against believing in (...)
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  46. Nicolas D. Goodman (1981). The Experiential Foundations of Mathematical Knowledge. History and Philosophy of Logic 2 (1-2):55-65.
    A view of the sources of mathematical knowledge is sketched which emphasizes the close connections between mathematical and empirical knowledge. A platonistic interpretation of mathematical discourse is adopted throughout. Two skeptical views are discussed and rejected. One of these, due to Maturana, is supposed to be based on biological considerations. The other, due to Dummett, is derived from a Wittgensteinian position in the philosophy of language. The paper ends with an elaboration of Gödel's analogy between the mathematician and the physicist.
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  47. William K. Goosens (1979). Stove and Inductive Scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):79-84.
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  48. William K. Goosens (1979). Stove and Inductive Scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):79 – 84.
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  49. Barry Gower (1990). Mellor on Inductive Scepticism. Philosophical Quarterly 40 (159):233-240.
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  50. Barry Gower (1990). Stove on Inductive Scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):109 – 112.
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