About this topic
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.
Related categories

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  1. Les Problèmes de L'Induction. [REVIEW]P. D. M. A. - 1960 - Review of Metaphysics 14 (1):172-172.
  2. The Logical Problem of Induction. [REVIEW]R. A. A. - 1957 - Review of Metaphysics 11 (2):354-354.
  3. Induction and Severe Testing.Peter Achinstein - 2010 - In Deborah G. Mayo & Aris Spanos (eds.), Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science. Cambridge University Press. pp. 170.
  4. Circularity and Induction.Peter Achinstein - 1963 - Analysis 23 (6):123 - 127.
  5. The Circularity of a Self-Supporting Inductive Argument.Peter Achinstein - 1962 - Analysis 22 (6):138 - 141.
  6. " Was Einstein a Philosopher?" Deduction Vs. Induction, the End of Certitude and Conventionalism.Am Adam - 1999 - In S. Smets J. P. Van Bendegem G. C. Cornelis (ed.), Metadebates on Science. Vub-Press & Kluwer. pp. 6--1.
  7. On A Problem Concerning Parameter Free Induction.Z. Adamowicz & C. Dimitracopoulos - 1991 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 37 (23‐24):363-366.
  8. Stove on Hume's Inductive Scepticism.Jonathan E. Adler - 1975 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53 (2):167 – 170.
  9. Induction and Stochastic Independence.Joseph Agassi - 1990 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (1):141-142.
  10. The Regress Argument for Skepticism.Scott Aikin - 2011 - In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
  11. Weak Inferential Internalism is Indistinguishable From Externalism – A Reply to Rhoda.David J. Alexander - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:387-394.
    In “Weak Inferential Internalism” I defended the frequently voiced criticism that any internalist account of inferential justification generates a vicious regress. My defense involved criticizing a recent form of internalism, “Weak Inferential Internalism” (WII) defended by Hookway and Rhoda. I argued that while WII does not generate a vicious regress, the position is only distinguishable from externalism insofar as it makes an arbitrary distinction between individuals who believe for the very same reason. Either way, WII is not a defensible internalist (...)
  12. WILLIAMS, D. -The Ground of Induction. [REVIEW]A. Ambrose - 1948 - Mind 57:514.
  13. Some Approaches to the Problem of Induction.Ahmed Anwer - 1995 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 22 (3):247.
  14. Hume's Problem of Induction.K. C. Anyanwu - 1982 - Nigerian Journal of Philosophy 2.
  15. Die Theorie der Induction.Ernst Friedrich Apelt - 1854 - W. Engelmann.
  16. The Sceptical Realism of David Hume. [REVIEW]Páll S. Árdal - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):157-162.
  17. Hume's Skepticism About Inductive Inference.N. Scott Arnold - 1983 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 21 (1):31-56.
    In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Hume's Skepticism about Inductive Inference N. SCOTT ARNOLD IT HAS BEEN A COMMONPLACE among commentators on Hume's philosophy that he was a radical skeptic about inductive inference. In addition, he is alleged to have been the first philosopher to pose the so-called problem of induction. Until recently, however, Hume's argument in this connection has not been subject to very close scrutiny. As attention has become focused on this (...)
  18. The Problem of Knowledge.A. J. Ayer - 1956 - Harmondsworth.
  19. The Problem of Induction and its Solution. [REVIEW]H. B. - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 16 (4):803-803.
  20. Herbrand's Theorem and Term Induction.Matthias Baaz & Georg Moser - 2005 - Archive for Mathematical Logic 45 (4):447-503.
    We study the formal first order system TIND in the standard language of Gentzen's LK . TIND extends LK by the purely logical rule of term-induction, that is a restricted induction principle, deriving numerals instead of arbitrary terms. This rule may be conceived as the logical image of full induction.
  21. De Augmentis Scientiarum Lib. Ix.Francis Bacon - 1662 - Sumptibus Joannis Ravesteinii.
  22. The Epistemological Root of the Problem of Induction.Massimiliano Badino - unknown
    This paper analyzes the epistemological significance of the problem of induction. In the first section, the foundation of this problem is identified in the thesis of gnoseological dualism: we only know our representations as separate from ‘the world itself’. This thesis will be countered by the thesis of gnoseological monism. In the second section, the implications of Hume’s skeptical thesis will be highlighted and it will be demonstrated how the point of view of gnoseological monism can offer a way out (...)
  23. Watkins and the Pragmatic Problem of Induction.Greg Bamford - 1989 - Analysis 49 (4):203 - 205..
    Watkins proposes a neo-Popperian solution to the pragmatic problem of induction. He asserts that evidence can be used non-Inductively to prefer the principle that corroboration is more successful over all human history than that, Say, Counter-Corroboration is more successful either over this same period or in the future. Watkins's argument for rejecting the first counter-Corroborationist alternative is beside the point, However, As whatever is the best strategy over all human history is irrelevant to the pragmatic problem of induction since we (...)
  24. On Ghazālīan Epistemology: A Theory.Carol L. Bargeron - 2008 - Journal of Islamic Philosophy 4:51-68.
    This work examines, through al-Munqidh, the ways and reasons of al-Ghazālī’s association with skepticism. Was he a skeptic on a Humean model, what was his approach to human knowledge, and what is the nature of al-Ghazālī’s critique of rational knowledge?
  25. Review of J. Katz The Problem of Induction and Its Solution. [REVIEW]S. F. Barker - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (1):111.
  26. Discussion: Is There a Problem of Induction?Stephen F. Barker - 1965 - American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (4):271 - 273.
  27. Fool Me Once: Can Indifference Vindicate Induction?Zach Barnett & Han Li - forthcoming - Episteme.
    Roger White (2015) sketches an ingenious new solution to the problem of induction. He argues from the principle of indifference for the conclusion that the world is more likely to be induction- friendly than induction-unfriendly. But there is reason to be skeptical about the proposed indifference-based vindication of induction. It can be shown that, in the crucial test cases White concentrates on, the assumption of indifference renders induction no more accurate than random guessing. After discussing this result, the paper explains (...)
  28. Induction Technique Et Science Expérimentale.Louis Basso - 1925 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 99:41 - 76.
  29. The Old Problem of Induction and the New Reflective Equilibrium.Jared Bates - 2005 - Dialectica 59 (3):347–356.
    In 1955, Goodman set out to 'dissolve' the problem of induction, that is, to argue that the old problem of induction is a mere pseudoproblem not worthy of serious philosophical attention. I will argue that, under naturalistic views of the reflective equilibrium method, it cannot provide a basis for a dissolution of the problem of induction. This is because naturalized reflective equilibrium is -- in a way to be explained -- itself an inductive method, and thus renders Goodman's dissolution viciously (...)
  30. J. J. Katz's "The Problem of Induction and Its Solution". [REVIEW]W. Baumer - 1964 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (2):295.
  31. Nature of Induction.William Baumgartner - 1951 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 25:130-136.
  32. Problem : Nature of Induction.William Baumgartner - 1951 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 25:130.
  33. A New Foundation for Humean Scepticism.Ronald E. Beanblossom - 1976 - Philosophical Studies 29 (3):207 - 210.
  34. Is Hume Really a Sceptic About Induction?Tom L. Beauchamp & Thomas A. Mappes - 1975 - American Philosophical Quarterly 12 (2):119 - 129.
  35. Can Rationalist Abductivism Solve the Problem of Induction?James Beebe - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2):151-168.
    Abstract: According to Laurence BonJour, the problem of induction can be solved by recognizing the a priori necessity that inductive conclusions constitute the best explanations of inductive premises. I defend an interpretation of the key probability claims BonJour makes about inductive premises and show that they are not susceptible to many of the objections that have been lodged against them. I then argue that these purportedly necessary probability claims nevertheless remain deeply problematic and that, as a result, BonJour's proposal fails (...)
  36. Necessary Connections and the Problem of Induction.Helen Beebee - 2011 - Noûs 45 (3):504-527.
    In this paper Beebee argues that the problem of induction, which she describes as a genuine sceptical problem, is the same for Humeans than for Necessitarians. Neither scientific essentialists nor Armstrong can solve the problem of induction by appealing to IBE, for both arguments take an illicit inductive step.
  37. Naturalism and Scepticism.Martin Bell & Marie McGinn - 1990 - Philosophy 65 (254):399 - 418.
    In this paper we argue that a dominant view of Humean naturalism involves a fundamental misconception of Hume's naturalist project. We shall show that the naturalist project as Hume conceives it is philosophically much more interesting than the form of naturalism commonly attributed to him. We shall also argue, however, that Hume's commitment to principles of empiricist epistemology prevented him from bringing his naturalist project to a satisfactory conclusion. Finally, we shall suggest that Wittgenstein shares Hume's conception of a philosophically (...)
  38. Scepticism and Madness.Christopher Belshaw - 1989 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):447 – 451.
  39. A Five-Fold Skepticism in Logical Empiricism.Carlton W. Berenda - 1950 - Philosophy of Science 17 (2):123-132.
  40. Quine, Underdetermination, and Skepticism.Lars Bergström - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (7):331-358.
  41. The Validation of Induction.John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 1997 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):62 – 76.
  42. Shifting the Paradigm: Alternative Perspectives on Induction.Paolo C. Biondi & Louis F. Groarke (eds.) - 2014 - De Gruyter.
  43. Kant and the Problem of Induction: A Reply to Walker.Graham Bird - 1999 - In Robert Stern (ed.), Transcendental Arguments: Problems and Prospects. Oxford University Press.
  44. Some Half-Baked Thoughts About Induction.M. Black - 1969 - In Ernest Nagel, Sidney Morgenbesser, Patrick Suppes & Morton Gabriel White (eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Method. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  45. The Raison d'Être of Inductive Argument.Max Black - 1966 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 17 (3):177-204.
  46. Can Induction Be Vindicated?Max Black - 1959 - Philosophical Studies 10 (1):5 - 16.
  47. Moral Scepticism and Inductive Scepticism.Robert Black - 1989 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 90:65 - 82.
    Viewing moral scepticism as the rejection of objective desirabilities, inductive scepticism may be seen as the rejection of objective believabilities. Moral scepticism leads naturally to amoralism rather than subjectivism, and inductive scepticism undermines not our practices of induction but only a view about justification. The two scepticisms together amount to the adoption of a defensibly narrow, formal view of reason.
  48. The Problem of Induction Dissertation Submitted for the Ph.D. Degree.Simon Blackburn - 1969 - [S.N.].
  49. Justification of Induction: Russell and Jin Yuelin. A Comparative Study.Chen Bo - 2012 - History and Philosophy of Logic 33 (4):353-378.
    Jin Yuelin (1895?1984), a Chinese logician and philosopher, is greatly influenced by Hume's and Russell's philosophies. How should we respond to Hume's problem of induction? This is an important clue to understand Jin's whole philosophical career. The first section of this paper gives a brief historical review of Russell and Jin. The second section outlines Hume's skeptical arguments against causality and induction. The third section expounds Russell's justification of induction by discussing his views on Hume's skepticism, causality, principle of induction, (...)
  50. Local Induction Vol. 93.Radu J. Bogdan (ed.) - 1976 - D. Reidel: Dordrecht.
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