What If the Principle of Induction Is Normative? Formal Learning Theory and Hume's Problem

This article argues that a successful answer to Hume's problem of induction can be developed from a sub-genre of philosophy of science known as formal learning theory. One of the central concepts of formal learning theory is logical reliability: roughly, a method is logically reliable when it is assured of eventually settling on the truth for every sequence of data that is possible given what we know. I show that the principle of induction (PI) is necessary and sufficient for logical reliability in what I call simple enumerative induction. This answer to Hume's problem rests on interpreting PI as a normative claim justified by a non-empirical epistemic means-ends argument. In such an argument, a rule of inference is shown by mathematical or logical proof to promote a specified epistemic end. Since the proof concerning PI and logical reliability is not based on inductive reasoning, this argument avoids the circularity that Hume argued was inherent in any attempt to justify PI.
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DOI 10.1080/02698595.2010.484544
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References found in this work BETA
David Hume (2009/2004). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), The Monist. Oxford University Press 112.
A. F. Chalmers (1999). What is This Thing Called Science? Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).

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Daniel Steel (2011). On Not Changing the Problem: A Reply to Howson. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (3):285 - 291.

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