Global and Local Pessimistic Meta-inductions

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (4):409-428 (2013)
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The global pessimistic meta-induction argues from the falsity of scientific theories accepted in the past to the likely falsity of currently accepted scientific theories. I contend that this argument commits a statistical error previously unmentioned in the literature and is self-undermining. I then compare the global pessimistic meta-induction to a local pessimistic meta-induction based on recent negative assessments of the reliability of medical research. If there is any future in drawing pessimistic conclusions from the history of science, it lies in local meta-inductions, but these meta-inductions will not result in global distrust of the results of science.

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Samuel Ruhmkorff
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (PhD)