The Pessimistic Induction: A Bad Argument Gone Too Far

Synthese 190 (15):3209-3226 (2013)
Abstract
In this paper, I consider the pessimistic induction construed as a deductive argument (specifically, reductio ad absurdum) and as an inductive argument (specifically, inductive generalization). I argue that both formulations of the pessimistic induction are fallacious. I also consider another possible interpretation of the pessimistic induction, namely, as pointing to counterexamples to the scientific realist’s thesis that success is a reliable mark of (approximate) truth. I argue that this interpretation of the pessimistic induction fails, too. If this is correct, then the pessimistic induction is an utter failure that should be abandoned by scientific anti-realists.
Keywords anti-realism  pessimistic induction  scientific realism
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References found in this work BETA
Alexander Bird (2007). Inference to the Only Explanation. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):424–432.
Michael Devitt (2011). Are Unconceived Alternatives a Problem for Scientific Realism? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (2):285-293.

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