In Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume. Blackwell-Wiley. pp. 57 - 94 (1967)

Aaron Sloman
University of Birmingham
Response to "Predictive Policies" by R.S.McGowan Mr. McGowan has assumed that there is a clear distinction between inductive inferences and others, that we all know how to make the distinction, that we all agree that the inductive ones are somehow better or more reasonable than the alternatives, and I have criticised all of these assumptions. Further he hasformulated the philosophical problem of induction as the problem of showing why the inductive ones are better, and he has attempted to show that inductive policiesas represented in his flow chart are better than non-inductive and counter-inductive ones. I have criticised some of the details of his argument and put forward the counter-claim that policies based on the weaker principles of desistence are better at avoiding contradictions and conform to past experience more closely than policies based on his strong principle of persistence. Accordingly, some modifications of his predictive rules have been suggested. Perhaps most importantly of all, I have argued that the assertion that one policy or inference is better or more rational than another is an incomplete assertion until a basis of comparison has been specified, since different policies may be better or more rational in relation to different bases, and I have indicated some possible approaches for further investigation of this point. A final line of investigation which should be mentioned is the problem of deciding which of two bases of comparison is better relative to some higher-order basis of comparison, a problem which may turn out to be very important in connexion with justifications of predictive policies. It seems that I have asked more questions than I have answered. Perhaps formulating them will help someone more familiar with the field than I am to find interesting answers.
Keywords Induction  Predictive policies  Basis of comparison
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