Margins of Precision [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 26 (4):748-749 (1973)

Max Black has included approximately one half of the essays that he has published since Models and Metaphors in this collection entitled Margins of Precision. All but two of the essays have appeared in various professional journals, the two exceptions being Chapter V on "Induction" and Chapter VI on "Probability," which are articles in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Paul Edwards. The final chapter, "Wittgenstein’s Views About Language," is an address delivered at the Israel Academy, Jerusalem in 1966 and published in Iyyun. Margins of Precision is an apt title for this anthology. The problems of induction that are a perennial concern of Black lie at the basis for margins of precision. Among these problems are criteria for correct induction, reasoning with loose concepts, and the gap between "Is" and "Should." Professor Black states that "Only in recent times have serious efforts been made to escape from the spell of the deductive model, used by Hume and his innumerable followers, by inquiring whether there may not be other proper and relevant senses of ‘reasonable'." According to Black, there is a sense of "reasonable" according to which we can reason with loose concepts, and there is need to advance further in our search for criteria for induction. His discussion of the gap between "Is" and "Should" suggests that this problem in metaethics is basically one of induction. For those interested in the problems of induction, Professor Black’s book is stimulating. He admits that he has "chosen topics where there is still work to be done." Each chapter opens the door to further thought.—L. A.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph197326479
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