Understanding induction

The paper offers a new understanding of induction in the empirical sciences, one which assimilates it to induction in geometry rather than to statistical inference. To make the point a system of notions, essential to logically sound induction, is defined. Notable among them are arbitrary object and particular property. A second aim of the paper is to bring to light a largely neglected set of assumptions shared by both induction and deduction in the empirical sciences. This is made possible by appealing to the logic of common nouns and applying it to the logic of natural-kind terms.This strategy yields a new insight into the concept of natural kinds. While the strategy reveals deep affinity between empirical induction and deduction it also reveals two problems peculiar to induction. This helps to explain the intuition that induction is the more problematic of the two. The paper does not set out ‘to solve the problem of induction’. 1The paper has benefited from the support and critical comments of several friends: Steven Davis, Kevin Dunbar, Anil Gupta, Michael Hallett, Ray Jackendoff and Storrs McCall. Two friends, however, deserve special thanks, Michael Makkai and Gonzalo Reyes. Many of the points made in the paper, otherwise unacknowledged, are due to their generosity and patience. In fact, the paper can be seen as an application of the logic of kinds on which Gonzalo Reyes has been working for several years.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/42.1.21
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Sandeep Prasada (2000). Acquiring Generic Knowledge. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4 (2):66-72.

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