The primitivist response to the inference problem

Dialectica (forthcoming)
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Abstract

While the inference problem is widely thought to be one of the most serious problems facing non-Humean accounts of laws, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that a primitivist response straightforwardly dissolves the problem. On this basis, he claims that the inference problem is really a pseudo-problem. Here I clarify the prospects of a primitivist response to the inference problem and their implications for the philosophical significance of the problem. I argue both that it is a substantial question whether this sort of response ought to be accepted and that the inference problem, contra Schaffer, remains a significant problem with important implications for the non-Humean position. I also argue that this discussion indicates grounds to be wary about applying the Schaffer-style strategy of straightforwardly dissolving problems by stipulation to other philosophical problems.

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Ashley Coates
University of Witwatersrand

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