Patterns, Rules, and Inferences

In Jonathan E. Adler & Lance J. Rips (eds.), Reasoning: Studies of Human Inference and its Foundations. Cambridge University Press 282-290 (2008)
The “Game of the Rule” is easy enough: I give you the beginning of a sequence of numbers (say) and you have to figure out how the sequence continues, to uncover the rule by means of which the sequence is generated. The game depends on two obvious constraints, namely (1) that the initial segment uniquely identify the sequence, and (2) that the sequence be non-random. As it turns out, neither constraint can fully be met, among other reasons because the relevant notion of randomness is either vacuous or undecidable. This may not be a problem when we play for fun. It is, however, a serious problem when it comes to playing the game for real, i.e., when the player to issue the initial segment is not one of us but the world out there, the sequence consisting not of numbers (say) but of the events that make up our history. Moreover, when we play for fun we know exactly what initial segment to focus on, but when we play for real we don’t even know that. This is the core difficulty in the philosophy of the inductive sciences.
Keywords Induction  Realism/Antirealism
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