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Summary Inductive skepticism is the view that the use of inductive inference in forming predictions and generalizations is unable to be justified.  Widely associated with David Hume, the basic problem arises from asking how inductive inference is to be justified.  Can it be justified by appeal to previous success in the use of induction?  That would be to employ induction to justifiy itself, which would be circular.  Can induction be justified on the basis of an appeal to logic?  Inductive inferences are non-deductive inferences in which the conclusions transcend the content of the premises.  So logic does not justify induction.  Can induction be justified by appeal to the uniformity of nature?  The uniformity of nature cannot itself be established without an inductive inference from past observation of uniformity.  Moreover, the uniformity of nature is not a matter of deductive logic.  Given the failures of these attempts to justify induction, the conclusion inevitably appears to be that induction is unable to be justified.  Hence we find ourselves in the position of inductive skepticism.
Key works The classic references for inductive skepticism are Hume 2007 and Hume 1998.  Good discussions of the topic may be found in Howson 2000, Salmon 1966 and Skyrms 1966.  For the suggestion that the inability to justify induction need not lead to skepticism, see Popper 1962.
Introductions Vickers 2008.
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  1. added 2020-02-12
    Practical Induction.John Robertson - 1998 - Philosophical Quarterly 48 (192):379-384.
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  2. added 2020-02-12
    Quine, Underdetermination, and Skepticism.Lars Bergström - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (7):331-358.
  3. added 2020-02-11
    Putting Skeptics in Their Place: The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry.Jonathan Vogel - 2004 - Mind 113 (451):552-555.
  4. added 2020-01-24
    Humean Humility.Aisling Crean - 2010 - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 13.
    This paper sets up and then solves a puzzle for the sceptical realist interpretation of Hume. The puzzle takes off when the sceptical realist attributes to Hume the following metaphysical theses: Causal powers grounding necessary connections in nature exist. Causal powers grounding necessary connections in nature are what make things happen.It then attributes an epistemological thesis to him: We have no knowledge of causal powers in nature nor of the necessary connections in nature which these powers ground.But putting these three (...)
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  5. added 2019-12-10
    Skeptical Symmetry: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Scientific Reasoning.Erik Nelson - 2015 - Gnosis 14 (2):14-19.
    Many philosophers have wrongly assumed that there is an asymmetry between the problem of induction and the logocentric predicament (the justification of deductive inferences). This paper will show that the demand for justification, for the very inferences that are required for justification, is deeply problematic. Using a Wittgensteinian approach, I will argue that justification has an internal relation with deductive and inductive inferences. For Wittgenstein, two concepts are internally related if my understanding of one is predicated on my understanding of (...)
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  6. added 2019-08-21
    "The Colour Out of Space": Lovecraft on Induction.Kieran Setiya - forthcoming - Philosophy and Literature.
    Argues for a reading of H. P. Lovecraft’s 1927 short story, "The Colour out of Space," as an affective response to the problem of induction. Lovecraft weighs the meaning of our epistemic frailty, drawing on George Santayana’s "Scepticism and Animal Faith." His writing elicits inductive vertigo, the fear that our concepts fail to carve nature at the joints.
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  7. added 2019-07-18
    Kevin McCain and Ted Poston’s Best Explanations.Frank Cabrera - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-10.
    I give a critical overview of the volume, focusing my attention on the chapters that deal with the explanationist response to skepticism.
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Hume’s Theorem.Colin Howson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):339-346.
    A common criticism of Hume’s famous anti-induction argument is that it is vitiated because it fails to foreclose the possibility of an authentically probabilistic justification of induction. I argue that this claim is false, and that on the contrary, the probability calculus itself, in the form of an elementary consequence that I call Hume’s Theorem, fully endorses Hume’s argument. Various objections, including the often-made claim that Hume is defeated by de Finetti’s exchangeability results, are considered and rejected.
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    Extreme Skepticism and Commitment in the Treatise.Karánn Durland - 2011 - Hume Studies 37 (1):65-98.
    The extreme skepticism that Hume’s dangerous dilemma introduces at the end of the first Book of the Treatise is deeply unsettling, in part because it seems to undermine Hume’s commitments to common life and philosophy, but also because Hume seems not to take its sweeping doubts seriously. He refuses to abandon his daily activities and philosophical pursuits, and he offers no clear account of what entitles him to sustain them. This paper explores a variety of tactics for addressing these opposing (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    Causes as Proximate Events: Thomas Brown and the Positivist Interpretation of Hume on Causality.Cristina Paoletti - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):37-44.
    A neglected episode in the intellectual history of the Scottish Enlightenment, Thomas Brown’s philosophy has been recently reassessed and reconnected with the emergence of the Positivist interpretation of David Hume. In fact, aiming to defend Hume’s philosophy from the common charges of atheism and scepticism, Brown popularised an interpretation of Humean texts which was later to become the standard view on Hume. In this essay, I aim to identify Brown’s historical sources and connect his reading of Hume with the medical (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    A Problem for Hume’s Theory of Induction.Ruth Weintraub - 2008 - Hume Studies 34 (2):169-187.
    According to Hume, the paradigm type of inductive reasoning involves a constant conjunction. But, as Price points out, Hume misrepresents ordinary induction: we experience very few constant conjunctions. In this paper, I examine several ways of defending Hume’s account of our practice against Price’s objection, and conclude that the theory cannot be upheld.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Does Hume's Argument Against Induction Rest on a Quantifier-Shift Fallacy?Samir Okasha - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (2):253-271.
    It is widely agreed that Hume's description of human inductive reasoning is inadequate. But many philosophers think that this inadequacy in no way affects the force of Hume's argument for the unjustifiability of inductive reasoning. I argue that this constellation of opinions contains a serious tension, given that Hume was not merely pointing out that induction is fallible. I then explore a recent diagnosis of where Hume's sceptical argument goes wrong, due to Elliott Sober. Sober argues that Hume committed a (...)
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    The Sceptical Tradition Around 1800: Scepticism in Philosophy, Science, and Society. [REVIEW]Harry M. Bracken - 2004 - International Studies in Philosophy 36 (1):333-334.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    Pietro Sforza Pallavicino’s Quest for Principles of Induction.Sven K. Knebel - 2001 - The Monist 84 (4):502-519.
    Though it is well known that Hume composed his Treatise and the first version of his essay On Miracles during his stay in La Flèche, this fact has not received the attention it surely deserves. What may have induced a gentleman from Edinburgh to bury himself in the library of a Jesuit college? While every historian of early modern philosophy is quick to credit La Flèche with having provided Descartes’s education, Burton’s amazement that Hume himself never alludes to this unique (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    Common Sense, Science and Scepticism: A Historical Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. [REVIEW]Justin Broackes - 1995 - Hume Studies 21 (1):138-139.
  16. added 2019-06-06
    Hume’s Extreme Skepticism in Treatise I IV 7.Ira Singer - 1995 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):595-622.
    This paper explores two aspects of Hume's skeptical crisis in the conclusion to _Treatise<D> Book I: his involved personal experience of the crisis, and his detached naturalistic reflection on it. I discuss several distinct states of mind reported in the text, ranging from extreme skepticism that rejects all belief, to natural dogmatism that rejects all reflection, to mitigated skepticism that tries to reconcile reflection and belief. I argue against interpretations according to which Hume's skepticism supports his naturalism, and I suggest (...)
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    Hume's Theory of Consciousness.Wayne Waxman - 1994 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book offers a comprehensive analysis and re-evaluation of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Kant viewed Hume as the sceptical destroyer of metaphysics. Yet for most of this century the consensus among interpreters is that for Hume scepticism was a means to a naturalistic, anti-sceptical end. The author seeks here to achieve a balance by showing how Hume's naturalism leads directly to a kind of scepticism even more radical than Kant imagined. In the process it offers the first systematic treatment (...)
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  18. added 2019-06-06
    Bayesian Induction Is Eliminative Induction.James Hawthorne - 1993 - Philosophical Topics 21 (1):99-138.
    Eliminative induction is a method for finding the truth by using evidence to eliminate false competitors. It is often characterized as "induction by means of deduction"; the accumulating evidence eliminates false hypotheses by logically contradicting them, while the true hypothesis logically entails the evidence, or at least remains logically consistent with it. If enough evidence is available to eliminate all but the most implausible competitors of a hypothesis, then (and only then) will the hypothesis become highly confirmed. I will argue (...)
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  19. added 2019-06-06
    VI—Is the Best Good Enough?Peter Lipton - 1992 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 93 (1):89-104.
    Is it ever rational to believe that a scientific theory is even approximately true? The evidence, however extensive, will not entail the theory it supports: the grounds for belief always remain inductive. Consequently, the realist who holds that there can be rational grounds for belief remains hostage to wholesale Humean scepticism about induction. The Humean argument has yet to be conclusively turned, but that project is not my present concern. Instead, I propose to consider intermediate forms of scepticism which attempt (...)
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  20. added 2019-06-06
    The Pragmatic Problem of Induction: Reply to Gower and Bamford.John Watkins - 1990 - Analysis 50 (3):210.
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  21. added 2019-06-06
    Hume’s Academic Scepticism: A Reappraisal of His Philosophy of Human Understanding.John P. Wright - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):407-435.
    A philosopher once wrote the following words:If I examine the PTOLOMAIC and COPERNICAN systems, I endeavour only, by my enquiries, to know the real situation of the planets; that is, in other words, I endeavour to give them, in my conception, the same relations, that they bear towards each other in the heavens. To this operation of the mind, therefore, there seems to be always a real, though often an unknown standard, in the nature of things; nor is truth or (...)
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  22. added 2019-06-06
    A Reconsideration of the Problem of Induction.Laurence Bonjour - 1986 - Philosophical Topics 14 (1):93-124.
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  23. added 2019-06-06
    The Problem of Induction: A New Approach.Marcos Barbosa De Oliveira - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (2):129-145.
    The problem of induction is formulated as a set of three questions, namely: ‘What is the nature of the attitude of acceptance that we adopt in relation to certain theories?’ ‘What are the rules according to which we select those theories which we accept?’ and, ‘What is the justification for the adoption of those rules?’. An original answer is proposed for each question in turn, with the help of the new concepts of sub-theory, established sub-theory, aberrant, arbitrary and degenerate theories. (...)
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  24. added 2019-06-06
    Is Hume a Sceptic About Induction?: On a Would-Be Revolution in the Interpretation of Hume's Philosophy.Adi Parush - 1977 - Hume Studies 3 (1):1-16.
  25. added 2019-06-06
    D. C. Stove, "Probability and Hume's Inductive Scepticism". [REVIEW]Donald W. Livingston - 1975 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 13 (3):413.
  26. added 2019-06-06
    Review of 'The Problem of Induction and Its Solution'. [REVIEW]William H. Baumer - 1964 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (2):295-296.
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  27. added 2019-06-06
    The Circularity of a Self-Supporting Inductive Argument.Peter Achinstein - 1962 - Analysis 22 (6):138.
  28. added 2019-06-06
    Généralisation et induction.George Fonsegrive - 1896 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 41:516-536.
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  29. added 2019-06-05
    Science and Scepticism. John Watkins.Michael Williams - 1986 - Philosophy of Science 53 (2):302-305.
  30. added 2019-06-05
    [Sur le Principe de l'induction mathématique].Alessandro Padoa - 1911 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 19 (3):395-395.
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  31. added 2019-04-16
    Karl Popper: Conjectures and Refutations.Danny Frederick - manuscript
  32. added 2019-02-13
    The External World and Induction.Everett J. Nelson - 1942 - Philosophy of Science 9 (3):261-267.
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  33. added 2019-02-12
    Quasi-Realism and Inductive Scepticism in Hume’s Theory of Causation.Dominic K. Dimech - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):637-650.
    Interpreters of Hume on causation consider that an advantage of the ‘quasi-realist’ reading is that it does not commit him to scepticism or to an error theory about causal reasoning. It is unique to quasi-realism that it maintains this positive epistemic result together with a rejection of metaphysical realism about causation: the quasi-realist supplies an appropriate semantic theory in order to justify the practice of talking ‘as if’ there were causal powers in the world. In this paper, I problematise the (...)
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  34. added 2018-12-16
    Quatro Desafios Céticos ao Saber.Luis R. G. Oliveira - forthcoming - In Antonio José Pêcego (ed.), Direito e Filosofia: Em Busca do Saber. Uberlândia, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil:
    O ceticismo é por vezes descartado como uma doutrina absurda e merecedora do seu lugar distante na antiguidade. Nada poderia ser menos correto. O ceticismo continua extremamente relevante para o pensamento filosófico e científico de hoje, servindo como um lembrete de que a sabedoria não é barata nem segura. Nesse texto, o meu objetivo principal é reproduzir o raciocínio das discussões clássicas sobre o ceticismo, mas de uma maneira coloquial e contemporânea. Após seguir as linhas de pensamento de Sexto Empírico, (...)
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  35. added 2018-12-15
    Reichenbach, Russell and the Metaphysics of Induction.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Argumenta 8:161-181.
    Hans Reichenbach’s pragmatic treatment of the problem of induction in his later works on inductive inference was, and still is, of great interest. However, it has been dismissed as a pseudo-solution and it has been regarded as problematically obscure. This is, in large part, due to the difficulty in understanding exactly what Reichenbach’s solution is supposed to amount to, especially as it appears to offer no response to the inductive skeptic. For entirely different reasons, the significance of Bertrand Russell’s classic (...)
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  36. added 2018-09-04
    An Argument Against Global No Miracles Arguments.Florian J. Boge - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Howson famously argues that the no-miracles argument, stating that the success of science indicates the approximate truth of scientific theories, is a base rate fallacy: it neglects the possibility of an overall low rate of true scientific theories. Recently a number of authors has suggested that the corresponding probabilistic reconstruction is unjust, as it concerns only the success of one isolated theory. Dawid and Hartmann, in particular, suggest to use the frequency of success in some field of research R to (...)
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  37. added 2018-07-26
    Inductive Knowledge.Andrew Bacon - 2020 - Noûs 54 (2):354-388.
    This paper formulates some paradoxes of inductive knowledge. Two responses in particular are explored: According to the first sort of theory, one is able to know in advance that certain observations will not be made unless a law exists. According to the other, this sort of knowledge is not available until after the observations have been made. Certain natural assumptions, such as the idea that the observations are just as informative as each other, the idea that they are independent, and (...)
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  38. added 2018-06-22
    Induction and Natural Kinds.Howard Sankey - 1997 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 1 (2):239-254.
    The paper sketches an ontological solution to an epistemological problem in the philosophy of science. Taking the work of Hilary Kornblith and Brian Ellis as a point of departure, it presents a realist solution to the Humean problem of induction, which is based on a scientific essentialist interpretation of the principle of the uniformity of nature. More specifically, it is argued that use of inductive inference in science is rationally justified because of the existence of real, natural kinds of things, (...)
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  39. added 2018-06-19
    Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited.Howard Sankey - forthcoming - In Stathis Psillos, Benjamin Hill & Henrik Lagerlund (eds.), Causal Powers in Science: Blending Historical and Conceptual Perspectives. Oxford University Press.
    In ‘Induction and Natural Kinds’, I proposed a solution to the problem of induction according to which our use of inductive inference is reliable because it is grounded in the natural kind structure of the world. When we infer that unobserved members of a kind will have the same properties as observed members of the kind, we are right because all members of the kind possess the same essential properties. The claim that the existence of natural kinds is what grounds (...)
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  40. added 2018-04-12
    In Defense of Rationalism About Abductive Inference.Ali Hasan - 2017 - In Ted Poston & Kevin McCain (eds.), Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. Oxford University Press.
    Laurence BonJour and more recently James Beebe have argued that the best way to defend the claim that abduction or inference to the best explanation is epistemically justified is the rationalist view that it is justified a priori. However, rationalism about abduction faces a number of challenges. This chapter focuses on one particular, highly influential objection, that there is no interpretation of probability available which is compatible with rationalism about abduction. The rationalist who wants to maintain a strong connection between (...)
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  41. added 2018-03-02
    Induction Et Existence Physique.Jules Vuillemin - 1999 - Dialectica 53 (3-4):345–383.
    The question is if and how an objective existence follows from the equations of physics.These equations being obtained by induction, three paradigmatic forms of induction are studied in the first part: by Kepler, Newton and Maxwell.In the second part, the question is answered within the limits of classical physics and its dualism. Physical magnitudes are always known with respect to a given approximation: it is through the order of the approximations that verification is associated with reality.
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  42. added 2018-03-02
    WATKINS, JOHN Science and Scepticism. [REVIEW]Mary Tiles - 1987 - Philosophy 62:256.
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  43. added 2018-03-02
    Career Induction Stops Here (and Here = 2).Robert K. Meyer - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):361 - 371.
  44. added 2018-03-02
    Induction: A Consistent Gamble.Keith Lehrer - 1969 - Noûs 3 (3):285-297.
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  45. added 2018-03-02
    Sur le Principe d'induction mathématique.E. Wickersheimer - 1911 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 19 (2):250 - 251.
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  46. added 2018-03-02
    Sur le Principe de l'induction mathématique.G. Vacca - 1911 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 19 (3):393 - 394.
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  47. added 2018-03-02
    Sur le Principe d'induction mathématique.Alessandro Padoa - 1911 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 19 (2):246 - 249.
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  48. added 2018-03-02
    The Theory of Induction.Frank Thilly - 1903 - Philosophical Review 12 (4):401-411.
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  49. added 2018-02-18
    Hume and Locke on Scientific Methodology: The Newtonian Legacy.Graciela De Pierris - 2006 - Hume Studies 32 (2):277-329.
    Hume follows Newton in replacing the mechanical philosophy’s demonstrative ideal of science by the Principia’s ideal of inductive proof ; in this respect, Hume differs sharply from Locke. Hume is also guided by Newton’s own criticisms of the mechanical philosophers’ hypotheses. The first stage of Hume’s skeptical argument concerning causation targets central tenets of the mechanical philosophers’ conception of causation, all of which rely on the a priori postulation of a hidden configuration of primary qualities. The skeptical argument concerning the (...)
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  50. added 2018-02-17
    From Bayesian Epistemology to Inductive Logic.Jon Williamson - 2013 - Journal of Applied Logic 11 (4):468-486.
    Inductive logic admits a variety of semantics (Haenni et al., 2011, Part 1). This paper develops semantics based on the norms of Bayesian epistemology (Williamson, 2010, Chapter 7). §1 introduces the semantics and then, in §2, the paper explores methods for drawing inferences in the resulting logic and compares the methods of this paper with the methods of Barnett and Paris (2008). §3 then evaluates this Bayesian inductive logic in the light of four traditional critiques of inductive logic, arguing (i) (...)
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1 — 50 / 474