David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Episteme 6 (2):200-220 (2009)
The justification of induction is of central significance for cross-cultural social epistemology. Different ‘epistemological cultures’ do not only differ in their beliefs, but also in their belief-forming methods and evaluation standards. For an objective comparison of different methods and standards, one needs (meta-)induction over past successes. A notorious obstacle to the problem of justifying induction lies in the fact that the success of object-inductive prediction methods (i.e., methods applied at the level of events) can neither be shown to be universally reliable (Hume's insight) nor to be universally optimal. My proposal towards a solution of the problem of induction is meta-induction. The meta-inductivist applies the principle of induction to all competing prediction methods that are accessible to her. By means of mathematical analysis and computer simulations of prediction games I show that there exist meta-inductive prediction strategies whose success is universally optimal among all accessible prediction strategies, modulo a small short-run loss. The proposed justification of meta-induction is mathematically analytical. It implies, however, an a posteriori justification of object-induction based on the experiences in our world. In the final section I draw conclusions about the significance of meta-induction for the social spread of knowledge and the cultural evolution of cognition, and I relate my results to other simulation results which utilize meta-inductive learning mechanisms.
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Gerd Gigerenzer (1999). Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. Oxford University Press.
Brian Skyrms (2006). The Stag Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure. Cambridge University Press.
Kevin Kelly (1996). The Logic of Reliable Inquiry. Oxford University Press, USA.
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Citations of this work BETA
Gerhard Schurz & Paul D. Thorn (forthcoming). The Revenge of Ecological Rationality: Strategy Selection by Meta-Induction Within Changing Environments. Minds and Machines:1-29.
Gerhard Schurz (2012). Meta-Induction in Epistemic Networks and the Social Spread of Knowledge. Episteme 9 (2):151-170.
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