Aristotle, Induction, and First Principles

Modern Empiricists are typically troubled by the two following problems: (1) There is an epistemic gap between experience of individuals and understanding universals such that empiricist accounts of concept formation seem to beg the question. (2) There needs to be an answer to the skeptic who denies that sensory experience warrants our belief in the existence of the material substances that underlie sensible qualities. Although Aristotle’s account of induction is subject to these problems prima facie, his theory of perception, his teleologically driven reliabilism about the senses, and his broader metaphysical views concerning the relation between substance and accident serve to insulate his account of induction from the pitfalls of modern empiricism. The resolution to these problems proposed in this paper allows for a consistent reading of otherwise controversial Aristotelian texts, while recommending a defense of realism about material substance against the claims of the Humean skeptic
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DOI 10.5840/ipq200444163
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