Counterinference


Authors
Stephen H. Phillips
University of Texas at Austin
Abstract
Counterinference is one of five kinds of pseudo-prover recognized in the Nyaaya school. Typically in counterinference while one side seeks to prove the thesis that a probandum belongs to an inferential subject because an inferential mark pervaded by the probandum belongs to that subject, an opponent challenges that by arguing that the probandum does not belong to the inferential subject because another inferential mark pervaded by absence of the probandum belongs to that subject. A common example is: sound is eternal, since it is audible and audibility is pervaded by eternality ; but sound is non-eternal, since it is originated and all that is originated is non-eternal, like a pot, etc. Critics from other philosophical schools have objected that counterinference is not an additional kind of pseudo-prover. Since it is impossible for an inferential subject both to have and not to have a probandum, either at least one of the inferential marks does not belong to the inferential subject or at least one of the inferential marks lacks pervasion and, accordingly, counterinference should be subsumed under those fallacies. Nyaaya philosophers have responded by pointing out that the formal structure of counterinference is different from that of the other fallacies: in counterinference we have two different inferential marks but not in the other candidates. The epistemic result of counterinference is also different from that of the other fallacies mentioned, it is argued further. Moreover, it is contended that the epistemic result is not doubt as specifically understood in Nyaaya but desire to know the truth about the chosen inferential mark and the probandum. Accordingly, counterinference may be explained as that which provides the ground for inquiring what is the truth about the original inferential mark and its probandum due to presentation of an inferential assimilation that contradicts the original inferential assimilation. The discussion yields also a broader normative principle that contradiction or counterproof provides the epistemic ground for further inquiry even if there is proof. The selection is from the Tattva-cintaa-maNi, the canonical Navya-Nyaaya work of GaMgesha. The selection is from a large work and presupposes some things explained elsewhere in the text. Further, though written with great precision the work paradoxically belongs to the old Indian philosophical oral tradition in which a beginner is expected to read it with the help of additional information supplied by an expert. Hence paying close attention to what is implied in the context and supplementing certain ideas is necessary for interpretation and understanding.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 0971-944X
DOI 10.5840/jipr2013181
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