Views which deny that there are necessary connections between distinct existences have often been criticized for leading to inductive skepticism. If there is no glue holding the world together then there seems to be no basis on which to infer from past to future. However, deniers of necessary connections have typically been unconcerned. After all, they say, everyone has a problem with induction. But, if we look at the connection between induction and explanation, we can develop the problem (...) of induction in a way that hits deniers of necessary connections, but not their opponents. The denier of necessary connections faces an `internal' problem with induction -- skepticism about important inductive inferences naturally flows from their position in a way that it doesn't for those who accept necessary connections. This is a major problem, perhaps a fatal one, for the denial of necessary connections. (shrink)
Aristotle said that induction (epagōgē) is a proceeding from particulars to a universal, and the deﬁnition has been conventional ever since. But there is an ambiguity here. Induction in the Scholastic and the (so-called) Humean tradition has presumed that Aristotle meant going from particular statements to universal statements. But the alternate view, namely that Aristotle meant going from particular things to universal ideas, prevailed all through antiquity and then again from the time of Francis Bacon until the mid-nineteenth (...) century. Recent scholarship is so steeped in the first-mentioned tradition that we have virtually forgotten the other. In this essay McCaskey seeks to recover that alternate tradition, a tradition whose leading theoreticians were William Whewell, Francis Bacon, Socrates, and in fact Aristotle himself. The examination is both historical and philosophical. The first part of the essay fills out the history. The latter part examines the most mature of the philosophies in the Socratic tradition, specifically Bacon’s and Whewell’s. After tracing out this tradition, McCaskey shows how this alternate view of induction is indeed employed in science, as exemplified by several instances taken from actual scientific practice. In this manner, McCaskey proposes to us that the Humean problem of induction is merely an artifact of a bad conception of induction and that a return to the Socratic conception might be warranted. (shrink)
According to a long interpretative tradition, Aristotle holds that the formal cause is the ultimate object of induction when investigating perceptible substances. For, the job of induction is to find the essential nature common to a set of individuals, and that nature is captured solely by their shared formal cause. Against this view, I argue that Aristotle understands perceptible individuals as irreducibly composite objects whose nature is constituted by both their formal and their material cause. As a result, (...) when investigating perceptible objects, the job of induction is to discover their composite, formal and material nature. The process by which universal claims about this composite nature are justified, I argue, is similar to what we now know as mathematical induction. In particular, such claims are grounded in a non-enumerative, but replicable process in which things are resolved into their simplest components. As a result, the observation of past uniformities has, at most, a heuristic function in scientific inquiry. (shrink)
In the mid-eighteenth century David Hume argued that successful prediction tells us nothing about the truth of the predicting theory. But physical theory routinely predicts the values of observable magnitudes within very small ranges of error. The chance of this sort of predictive success without a true theory suggests that Hume's argument is flawed. However, Colin Howson argues that there is no flaw and examines the implications of this disturbing conclusion; he also offers a solution to one of the central (...) problems of Western philosophy, the problem of induction. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the pessimistic induction construed as a deductive argument (specifically, reductio ad absurdum) and as an inductive argument (specifically, inductive generalization). I argue that both formulations of the pessimistic induction are fallacious. I also consider another possible interpretation of the pessimistic induction, namely, as pointing to counterexamples to the scientific realist’s thesis that success is a reliable mark of (approximate) truth. I argue that this interpretation of the pessimistic induction fails, too. If (...) this is correct, then the pessimistic induction is an utter failure that should be abandoned by scientific anti-realists. (shrink)
The pessimistic induction holds that successful past scientific theories are completely false, so successful current ones are completely false too. I object that past science did not perform as poorly as the pessimistic induction depicts. A close study of the history of science entitles us to construct an optimistic induction that would neutralize the pessimistic induction. Also, even if past theories were completely false, it does not even inductively follow that the current theories will also turn (...) out to be completely false because the current theories are more successful and have better birth qualities than the past theories. Finally, the extra success and better birth qualities justify an anti-induction in favor of the present theories. (shrink)
In this paper Beebee argues that the problem of induction, which she describes as a genuine sceptical problem, is the same for Humeans than for Necessitarians. Neither scientific essentialists nor Armstrong can solve the problem of induction by appealing to IBE, for both arguments take an illicit inductive step.
My aim is to evaluate a new realist strategy for addressing the pessimistic induction, Ludwig Fahrbach’s (Synthese 180:139–155, 2011) appeal to the exponential growth of science. Fahrbach aims to show that, given the exponential growth of science, the history of science supports realism. I argue that Fahrbach is mistaken. I aim to show that earlier generations of scientists could construct a similar argument, but one that aims to show that the theories that they accepted are likely true. The problem (...) with this is that from our perspective on the history of science we know their argument is flawed. Consequently, we should not be impressed or persuaded by Fahrbach’s argument. Fahrbach has failed to identify a difference that matters between today’s theories and past theories. But realists need to find such a difference if they are to undermine the pessimistic induction. (shrink)
Category-based induction is an inferential mechanism that uses knowledge of conceptual relations in order to estimate how likely is for a property to be projected from one category to another. During the last decades, psychologists have identified several features of this mechanism, and they have proposed different formal models of it. In this article; we propose a new mathematical model for category-based induction based on distances on conceptual spaces. We show how this model can predict most of the (...) properties of this kind of reasoning while providing a solid theoretical foundation for it. We also show that it subsumes some of the previous models proposed in the literature and that it generates new predictions. (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy of science, the no-miracles argument and the pessimistic induction are regarded as the strongest arguments for and against scientific realism, respectively. In this paper, I construct a new argument for scientific realism which I call the anti-induction for scientific realism. It holds that, since past theories were false, present theories are true. I provide an example from the history of science to show that anti-inductions sometimes work in science. The anti-induction for scientific realism has (...) several advantages over the no-miracles argument as a positive argument for scientific realism. (shrink)
How confident does the history of science allow us to be about our current well-tested scientific theories, and why? The scientific realist thinks we are well within our rights to believe our best-tested theories, or some aspects of them, are approximately true.2 Ambitious arguments have been made to this effect, such as that over historical time our scientific theories are converging to the truth, that the retention of concepts and claims is evidence for this, and that there can be no (...) other serious explanation of the success of science than that its theories are approximately true. There is appeal in each of these ideas, but making such strong claims has tended to be hazardous, leaving us open to charges that many typical episodes in the history of science just do not fit the model. (See, e.g., Laudan 1981.) Arguing for a realist attitude via general claims – properties ascribed to sets of theories, trends we see in progressions of theories, and claimed links between general properties like success and truth that apply or fail to apply to any theory regardless of its content – is like arguing for or via a theory of science, which brings with it the obligation to defend that theory. I think a realist attitude toward particular scientific theories for which we have evidence can be maintained rationally without such a theory, even in the face of the pessimistic induction over the history of science. The starting point at which questions arise as to what we have a right to believe about our theories is one where we have theories and evidence for them, and we are involved in the activity of apportioning our belief in each particular theory or hypothesis in accord with the strength of the particular evidence.3 The devil’s advocate sees our innocence and tries his best to sow seeds of doubt. If our starting point is as I say, though, the innocent believer in particular theories does not have to play offense and propose sweeping views about science in general, but only to respond to the skeptic’s challenges; the burden of initial argument is on the skeptic.. (shrink)
John Norton says that philosophers have been led astray for thousands of years by their attempt to treat induction formally. He is correct that such an attempt has caused no end of trouble, but he is wrong about the history. There is a rich tradition of non-formal induction. In fact, material theories of induction prevailed all through antiquity and from the Renaissance to the mid-1800s. Recovering these past systems would not only fill lacunae in Norton’s own theory (...) but would highlight areas where Norton has not freed himself from the straightjacket of formal induction as much as he might think. This essay begins that recovery. (shrink)
In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an (...) unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism. (shrink)
After decades of intense debate over the old pessimistic induction (Laudan, 1977; Putnam, 1978), it has now become clear that it has at least the following four problems. First, it overlooks the fact that present theories are more successful than past theories. Second, it commits the fallacy of biased statistics. Third, it erroneously groups together past theories from different fields of science. Four, it misses the fact that some theoretical components of past theories were preserved. I argue that these (...) four problems entitle us to construct what I call the grand pessimistic induction that since the old pessimistic induction has infinitely many hidden problems, the new pessimistic induction (Stanford, 2006) also has infinitely many hidden problems. (shrink)
Aristotle's cognitive ideal is a form of understanding that requires a sophisticated grasp of scientific first principles. At the end of the Analytics, Aristotle tells us that we learn these principles by induction. But on the whole, commentators have found this an implausible claim: induction seems far too basic a process to yield the sort of knowledge Aristotle's account requires. In this paper I argue that this criticism is misguided. I defend a broader reading of Aristotelian induction, (...) on which there's good sense to be made of the claim that we come to grasp first principles inductively, and show that this reading is a natural one given Aristotle's broader views on scientific learning. (shrink)
How induction was understood took a substantial turn during the Renaissance. At the beginning, induction was understood as it had been throughout the medieval period, as a kind of propositional inference that is stronger the more it approximates deduction. During the Renaissance, an older understanding, one prevalent in antiquity, was rediscovered and adopted. By this understanding, induction identifies defining characteristics using a process of comparing and contrasting. Important participants in the change were Jean Buridan, humanists such as (...) Lorenzo Valla and Rudolph Agricola, Paduan Aristotelians such as Agostino Nifo, Jacopo Zabarella, and members of the medical faculty, writers on philosophy of mind such as the Englishman John Case, writers of reasoning handbooks, and Francis Bacon. (shrink)
In this paper I adduce a new argument in support of the claim that IBE is an autonomous form of inference, based on a familiar, yet surprisingly, under-discussed, problem for Hume’s theory of induction. I then use some insights thereby gleaned to argue for the claim that induction is really IBE, and draw some normative conclusions.
John Foster presents a clear and powerful discussion of a range of topics relating to our understanding of the universe: induction, laws of nature, and the existence of God. He begins by developing a solution to the problem of induction - a solution whose key idea is that the regularities in the workings of nature that have held in our experience hitherto are to be explained by appeal to the controlling influence of laws, as forms of natural necessity. (...) His second line of argument focuses on the issue of what we should take such necessitational laws to be, and whether we can even make sense of them at all. Having considered and rejected various alternatives, Foster puts forward his own proposal: the obtaining of a law consists in the causal imposing of a regularity on the universe as a regularity. With this causal account of laws in place, he is now equipped to offer an argument for theism. His claim is that natural regularities call for explanation, and that, whatever explanatory role we may initially assign to laws, the only plausible ultimate explanation is in terms of the agency of God. Finally, he argues that, once we accept the existence of God, we need to think of him as creating the universe by a method which imposes regularities on it in the relevant law-yielding way. In this new perspective, the original nomological-explanatory solution to the problem of induction becomes a theological-explanatory solution. The Divine Lawmaker is bold and original in its approach, and rich in argument. The issues on which it focuses are among the most important in the whole epistemological and metaphysical spectrum. (shrink)
John D. Norton is responsible for a number of influential views in contemporary philosophy of science. This paper will discuss two of them. The material theory of induction claims that inductive arguments are ultimately justified by their material features, not their formal features. Thus, while a deductive argument can be valid irrespective of the content of the propositions that make up the argument, an inductive argument about, say, apples, will be justified (or not) depending on facts about apples. The (...) argument view of thought experiments claims that thought experiments are arguments, and that they function epistemically however arguments do. These two views have generated a great deal of discussion, although there hasn’t been much written about their combination. I argue that despite some interesting harmonies, there is a serious tension between them. I consider several options for easing this tension, before suggesting a set of changes to the argument view that I take to be consistent with Norton’s fundamental philosophical commitments, and which retain what seems intuitively correct about the argument view. These changes require that we move away from a unitary epistemology of thought experiments and towards a more pluralist position. (shrink)
There are nine antirealist explanations of the success of science in the literature. I raise difficulties against all of them except the latest one, and then construct a pessimistic induction that the latest one will turn out to be problematic because its eight forerunners turned out to be problematic. This pessimistic induction is on a par with the traditional pessimistic induction that successful present scientific theories will be revealed to be false because successful past scientific theories were (...) revealed to be false. (shrink)
Nickles (2017) advocates scientific antirealism by appealing to the pessimistic induction over scientific theories, the illusion hypothesis (Quoidbach, Gilbert, and Wilson, 2013), and Darwin’s evolutionary theory. He rejects Putnam’s (1975: 73) no-miracles argument on the grounds that it uses inference to the best explanation. I object that both the illusion hypothesis and evolutionary theory clash with the pessimistic induction and with his negative attitude towards inference to the best explanation. I also argue that Nickles’s positive philosophical theories are (...) subject to Park’s (2017a) pessimistic induction over antirealists. (shrink)
In this paper, I respond to Sterpetti’s attempt to defend Kyle P. Stanford’s Problem of Unconceived Alternatives and his New Induction over the History of Science from my reductio argument outlined in Mizrahi :59–68, 2016a). I discuss what I take to be the ways in which Sterpetti has misconstrued my argument against Stanford’s NIS, in particular, that it is a reductio, not a dilemma, as Sterpetti erroneously thinks. I argue that antirealists who endorse Stanford’s NIS still face an absurd (...) consequence of this argument, namely, that they should not believe their own brand of scientific antirealism. (shrink)
Many necessitarians about cause and law (Armstrong 1983; Mumford 2004; Bird 2007) have argued that Humeans are unable to justify their inductive inferences, as Humean laws are nothing but the sum of their instances. In this paper I argue against these necessitarian claims. I show that Armstrong is committed to the explanatory value of Humean laws (in the form of universally quantified statements), and that contra Armstrong, brute regularities often do have genuine explanatory value. I finish with a Humean attempt (...) at a probabilistic justification of induction, but this fails due to its assumption that the proportionality syllogism is justified. Although this attempt fails, I nonetheless show that the Humean is at least as justified in reasoning inductively as Armstrong. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is that we can justify induction deductively relative to one end, and deduction inductively relative to a different end. I will begin by presenting a contemporary variant of Hume ’s argument for the thesis that we cannot justify the principle of induction. Then I will criticize the responses the resulting problem of induction has received by Carnap and Goodman, as well as praise Reichenbach ’s approach. Some of these authors compare induction (...) to deduction. Haack compares deduction to induction, and I will critically discuss her argument for the thesis that we cannot justify the principles of deduction next. In concluding I will defend the thesis that we can justify induction deductively relative to one end, and deduction inductively relative to a different end, and that we can do so in a non-circular way. Along the way I will show how we can understand deductive and inductive logic as normative theories, and I will briefly sketch an argument to the effect that there are only hypothetical, but no categorical imperatives. (shrink)
The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality.
Writing on the justification of certain inductive inferences, the author proposes that sometimes induction is justified and that arguments to prove otherwise are not cogent. In the first part he defends the argument of D.C. Williams' The Ground of Induction that induction is justified as a matter of logic by the proportional syllogism: "The vast majority of large samples match the population, therefore (probably) this sample matches the population"). In the second part he deals with such topics (...) as deductive logic (arguing that deductive logic is not formal), the theory of logical probability, and probability and truth. (shrink)
Roger White (2015) sketches an ingenious new solution to the problem of induction. He argues from the principle of indifference for the conclusion that the world is more likely to be induction- friendly than induction-unfriendly. But there is reason to be skeptical about the proposed indifference-based vindication of induction. It can be shown that, in the crucial test cases White concentrates on, the assumption of indifference renders induction no more accurate than random guessing. After discussing (...) this result, the paper explains why the indifference-based argument seemed so compelling, despite ultimately being unsound. (shrink)
Discussion on whether Hume's treatment of induction is descriptive or normative has usually centred on Hume's negative argument, somewhat neglecting the positive argument. In this paper, I will buck this trend, focusing on the positive argument. First, I argue that Hume's positive and negative arguments should be read as addressing the same issues . I then argue that Hume's positive argument in the Enquiry is normative in nature; drawing on his discussion of scepticism in Section 12 of the Enquiry, (...) I explain a framework by which he provides what I call consequent justification for our inductive practices in his positive argument. Based on this, I argue that his negative argument in the Enquiry should similarly be read as normative in nature. (shrink)
In this three-part paper, my concern is to expound and defend a conception of science, close to Einstein's, which I call aim-oriented empiricism. I argue that aim-oriented empiricsim has the following virtues. (i) It solve the problem of induction; (ii) it provides decisive reasons for rejecting van Fraassen's brilliantly defended but intuitively implausible constructive empiricism; (iii) it solves the problem of verisimilitude, the problem of explicating what it can mean to speak of scientific progress given that science advances from (...) one false theory to another; (iv) it enables us to hold that appropriate scientific theories, even though false, can nevertheless legitimately be interpreted realistically, as providing us with genuine , even if only approximate, knowledge of unobservable physical entities; (v) it provies science with a rational, even though fallible and non-mechanical, method for the discovery of fundamental new theories in physics. In the third part of the paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years. (shrink)
We formalise a notion of dynamic rationality in terms of a logic of conditional beliefs on (doxastic) plausibility models. Similarly to other epistemic statements (e.g. negations of Moore sentences and of Muddy Children announcements), dynamic rationality changes its meaning after every act of learning, and it may become true after players learn it is false. Applying this to extensive games, we “simulate” the play of a game as a succession of dynamic updates of the original plausibility model: the epistemic situation (...) when a given node is reached can be thought of as the result of a joint act of learning (via public announcements) that the node is reached. We then use the notion of “stable belief”, i.e. belief that is preserved during the play of the game, in order to give an epistemic condition for backward induction: rationality and common knowledge of stable belief in rationality. This condition is weaker than Aumann’s and compatible with the implicit assumptions (the “epistemic openness of the future”) underlying Stalnaker’s criticism of Aumann’s proof. The “dynamic” nature of our concept of rationality explains why our condition avoids the apparent circularity of the “backward induction paradox”: it is consistent to (continue to) believe in a player’s rationality after updating with his irrationality. (shrink)
Hans Reichenbach’s pragmatic treatment of the problem of induction in his later works on inductive inference was, and still is, of great interest. However, it has been dismissed as a pseudo-solution and it has been regarded as problematically obscure. This is, in large part, due to the difficulty in understanding exactly what Reichenbach’s solution is supposed to amount to, especially as it appears to offer no response to the inductive skeptic. For entirely different reasons, the significance of Bertrand Russell’s (...) classic attempt to solve Hume’s problem is also both obscure and controversial. Russell accepted that Hume’s reasoning about induction was basically correct, but he argued that given the centrality of induction in our cognitive endeavors something must be wrong with Hume’s basic assumptions. What Russell effectively identified as Hume’s (and Reichenbach’s) failure was the commitment to a purely extensional empiricism. So, Russell’s solution to the problem of induction was to concede extensional empiricism and to accept that induction is grounded by accepting both a robust essentialism and a form of rationalism that allowed for a priori knowledge of universals. So, neither of those doctrines is without its critics. On the one hand, Reichenbach’s solution faces the charges of obscurity and of offering no response to the inductive skeptic. On the other hand, Russell’s solution looks to be objectionably ad hoc absent some non-controversial and independent argument that the universals that are necessary to ground the uniformity of nature actually exist and are knowable. This particular charge is especially likely to arise from those inclined towards purely extensional forms of empiricism. In this paper the significance of Reichenbach’s solution to the problem of induction will be made clearer via the comparison of these two historically important views about the problem of induction. The modest but important contention that will be made here is that the comparison of Reichenbach’s and Russell’s solutions calls attention to the opposition between extensional and intensional metaphysical presuppositions in the context of attempts to solve the problem of induction. It will be show that, in effect, what Reichenbach does is to establish an important epistemic limitation of extensional empiricism. So, it will be argued here that there is nothing really obscure about Reichenbach’s thoughts on induction at all. He was simply working out the limits of extensional empiricism with respect to inductive inference in opposition to the sort of metaphysics favored by Russell and like-minded thinkers. (shrink)
The paper sketches an ontological solution to an epistemological problem in the philosophy of science. Taking the work of Hilary Kornblith and Brian Ellis as a point of departure, it presents a realist solution to the Humean problem of induction, which is based on a scientific essentialist interpretation of the principle of the uniformity of nature. More specifically, it is argued that use of inductive inference in science is rationally justified because of the existence of real, natural kinds of (...) things, which are characterized as such by the essential properties which all members of a kind necessarily possess in common. The proposed response to inductive scepticism combines the insights of epistemic naturalism with a metaphysical outlook that is due to s cientific realism. (shrink)
In 1947 Donald Cary Williams claimed in The Ground of Induction to have solved the Humean problem of induction, by means of an adaptation of reasoning ﬁrst advanced by Bernoulli in 1713. Later on David Stove defended and improved upon Williams’ argument in The Rational- ity of Induction (1986). We call this proposed solution of induction the ‘Williams-Stove sampling thesis’. There has been no lack of objections raised to the sampling thesis, and it has not been (...) widely accepted. In our opinion, though, none of these objections has the slightest force, and, moreover, the sampling thesis is undoubtedly true. What we will argue in this paper is that one particular objection that has been raised on numerous occasions is misguided. This concerns the randomness of the sample on which the inductive extrapolation is based. (shrink)
The philosophical background important to Mill’s theory of induction has two major components: Richard Whately’s introduction of the uniformity principle into inductive inference and the loss of the idea of formal cause.
We consider the desirability, or otherwise, of various forms of induction in the light of certain principles and inductive methods within predicate uncertain reasoning. Our general conclusion is that there remain conflicts within the area whose resolution will require a deeper understanding of the fundamental relationship between individuals and properties.
It is argued that in deterministic contexts evidence for causal relations states whether a boundary condition makes a difference or not to a phenomenon. In order to substantiate the analysis, I show that this difference/indifference making is the basic type of evidence required for eliminative induction in the tradition of Francis Bacon and John Stuart Mill. To this purpose, an account of eliminative induction is proposed with two distinguishing features: it includes a method to establish the causal irrelevance (...) of boundary conditions by means of indifference making, which is called strict method of agreement, and it introduces the notion of a background against which causal statements are evaluated. Causal statements thus become three-place-relations postulating the relevance or irrelevance of a circumstance C to the examined phenomenon P with respect to a background B of further conditions. To underline the importance of evidence in terms of difference/indifference making, I sketch two areas, in which eliminative induction is extensively used in natural and engineering sciences. One concerns exploratory experiments, the other engineering design methods. Given that a method is discussed that has been used for centuries, I make no claims to novelty in this paper, but hope that the combined discussion of several topics that are still somewhat underrepresented in the philosophy of science literature is of some merit. (shrink)
Philosophers of mathematics commonly distinguish between explanatory and non-explanatory proofs. An important subclass of mathematical proofs are proofs by induction. Are they explanatory? This paper addresses the question, based on general principles about explanation. First, a recent argument for a negative answer is discussed and rebutted. Second, a case is made for a qualified positive take on the issue.
The standard backward-induction reasoning in a game like the centipede assumes that the players maintain a common belief in rationality throughout the game. But that is a dubious assumption. Suppose the first player X didn't terminate the game in the first round; what would the second player Y think then? Since the backwards-induction argument says X should terminate the game, and it is supposed to be a sound argument, Y might be entitled to doubt X's rationality. Alternatively, Y (...) might doubt that X believes Y is rational, or that X believes Y believes X is rational, or Y might have some higher-order doubt. X’s deviant first move might cause a breakdown in common belief in rationality, therefore. Once that goes, the entire argument fails. The argument also assumes that the players act rationally at each stage of the game, even if this stage could not be reached by rational play. But it is also dubious to assume that past irrationality never exerts a corrupting influence on present play. However, the backwards-induction argument can be reconstructed for the centipede game on a more secure basis.1 It may be implausible to assume a common belief in rationality throughout the game, however the game might go, but the argument requires less than this. The standard idealisations in game theory certainly allow us to assume a common belief in rationality at the beginning of the game. They also allow us to assume this common belief persists so long as no one makes an irrational move. That is enough for the argument to go through. (shrink)
Since the mid-1970s, scholars have recognized that the skeptical interpretation of Hume’s central argument about induction is problematic. The science of human nature presupposes that inductive inference is justified and there are endorsements of induction throughout Treatise Book I. The recent suggestion that I.iii.6 is confined to the psychology of inductive inference cannot account for the epistemic flavor of its claims that neither a genuine demonstration nor a non-question-begging inductive argument can establish the uniformity principle. For Hume, that (...) inductive inference is justified is part of the data to be explained. Bad argument is therefore excluded as the cause of inductive inference; and there is no good argument to cause it. Does this reinstate the problem of induction, undermining Hume’s own assumption that induction is justified? It does so only if justification must derive from “reason”, from the availability of a cogent argument. Hume rejects this internalist thesis; induction’s favorable epistemic status derives from features of custom, the mechanism that generates inductive beliefs. Hume is attracted to this externalist posture because it provides a direct explanation of the epistemic achievements of children and non-human animals—creatures that must rely on custom unsupplemented by argument. (shrink)
People are adept at inferring novel causal relations, even from only a few observations. Prior knowledge about the probability of encountering causal relations of various types and the nature of the mechanisms relating causes and effects plays a crucial role in these inferences. We test a formal account of how this knowledge can be used and acquired, based on analyzing causal induction as Bayesian inference. Five studies explored the predictions of this account with adults and 4-year-olds, using tasks in (...) which participants learned about the causal properties of a set of objects. The studies varied the two factors that our Bayesian approach predicted should be relevant to causal induction: the prior probability with which causal relations exist, and the assumption of a deterministic or a probabilistic relation between cause and effect. Adults’ judgments (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) were in close correspondence with the quantitative predictions of the model, and children’s judgments (Experiments 3 and 5) agreed qualitatively with this account. (shrink)
I explain how Karl Popper resolved the problem of induction but not the pragmatic problem of induction. I show that Popper’s solution to the pragmatic problem of induction is inconsistent with his solution to the problem of induction. I explain how Popper’s falsificationist epistemology can solve the pragmatic problem of induction in the same negative way that it solves the problem of induction.
This paper has three interdependent aims. The first is to make Reichenbach’s views on induction and probabilities clearer, especially as they pertain to his pragmatic justification of induction. The second aim is to show how his view of pragmatic justification arises out of his commitment to extensional empiricism and moots the possibility of a non-pragmatic justification of induction. Finally, and most importantly, a formal decision-theoretic account of Reichenbach’s pragmatic justification is offered in terms both of the minimax (...) principle and the dominance principle. (shrink)
The prospect of cognitive enhancement well beyond current human capacities raises worries that the fundamental equality in moral status of human beings could be undermined. Cognitive enhancement might create beings with moral status higher than persons. Yet, there is an expressibility problem of spelling out what the higher threshold in cognitive capacity would be like. Nicholas Agar has put forward the bold claim that we can show by means of inductive reasoning that indefinite cognitive enhancement will probably mark a difference (...) in moral status. The hope is that induction can determine the plausibility of post‐personhood existence in the absence of an account of what the higher status would be like. In this article, we argue that Agar's argument fails and, more generally, that inductive reasoning has little bearing on assessing the likelihood of post‐personhood in the absence of an account of higher status. We conclude that induction cannot bypass the expressibility problem about post‐persons. (shrink)
I want to examine a possible solution to the problem of induction-one which, as far as I know, has not been discussed elsewhere. The solution makes crucial use of the notion of objective natural necessity. For the purposes of this discussion, I shall assume that this notion is coherent. I am aware that this assumption is controversial, but I do not have space to examine the issue here.
The Pessimistic Induction (PI) states: most past scientific theories were radically mistaken; therefore, current theories are probably similarly mistaken. But mistaken in what way? On the usual understanding, such past theories are false. However, on widely held views about reference and presupposition, many theoretical claims of previous scientific theories are neither true nor false. And if substantial portions of past theories are truth-valueless, then the PI leads to semantic antirealism. But most current philosophers of science reject semantic antirealism. So (...) PI proponents face a difficult choice: accept either semantic antirealism or an unorthodox position on reference and presupposition. (shrink)
Alice encounters at least three distinct problems in her struggles to understand and navigate Wonderland. The first arises when she attempts to predict what will happen in Wonderland based on what she has experienced outside of Wonderland. In many cases, this proves difficult -- she fails to predict that babies might turn into pigs, that a grin could survive without a cat or that playing cards could hold criminal trials. Alice's second problem involves her efforts to figure out the basic (...) nature of Wonderland. So, for example, there is nothing Alice could observe that would allow her to prove whether Wonderland is simply a dream. The final problem is manifested by Alice's attempts to understand what the various residents of Wonderland mean when they speak to her. In Wonderland, "mock turtles" are real creatures and people go places with a "porpoise" (and not a purpose). All three of these problems concern Alice's attempts to infer information about unobserved events or objects from those she has observed. In philosophical terms, they all involve *induction*. -/- In this essay, I will show how Alice's experiences can be used to clarify the relation between three more general problems related to induction. The first problem, which concerns our justification for beliefs about the future, is an instance of David Hume's classic *problem of induction*. Most of us believe that rabbits will not start talking tomorrow -- the problem of induction challenges us to justify this belief. Even if we manage to solve Hume's puzzle, however, we are left with what W.V.O. Quine calls the problems of *underdetermination *and *indeterminacy.* The former problem asks us to explain how we can determine *what the world is really like *based on *everything that could be observed about the world. *So, for example, it seems plausible that nothing that Alice could observe would allow her to determine whether eating mushrooms causes her to grow or the rest of the world to shrink. The latter problem, which might remain even if resolve the first two, casts doubt on our capacity to determine *what a certain person means *based on *which words that person uses.* This problem is epitomized in the Queen's interpretation of the Knave's letter. The obstacles that Alice faces in getting around Wonderland are thus, in an important sense, the same types of obstacles we face in our own attempts to understand the world. Her successes and failures should therefore be of real interest. (shrink)
This paper explains what’s wrong with a Hume-inspired argument for skepticism about induction. Hume’s argument takes as a premise that inductive reasoning presupposes that the future will resemble the past. I explain why that claim is not plausible. The most plausible premise in the vicinity is that inductive reasoning from E to H presupposes that if E then H. I formulate and then refute a skeptical argument based on that premise. Central to my response is a psychological explanation for (...) how people judge that if E then H without realizing that they thereby settled the matter rationally. (shrink)
Israel 2004 claims that numerous philosophers have misinterpreted Goodman’s original ‘New Riddle of Induction’, and weakened it in the process, because they do not define ‘grue’ as referring to past observations. Both claims are false: Goodman clearly took the riddle to concern the maximally general problem of “projecting” any type of characteristic from a given realm of objects into another, and since this problem subsumes Israel’s, Goodman formulated a stronger philosophical challenge than the latter surmises.
Charles Sanders Peirce wrote the article “The probability of induction” in 1878. It was the fourth article of the series “Illustrations of the Logic of Science” which comprised a total of six articles. According to Peirce, to get a clear idea of the conception of probability, one has ‘to consider what real and sensible difference there is between one degree of probability and another.’ He endorsed what John Venn had called the ‘materialistic view’ of the subject, namely that probability (...) is the proportion of times in which an occurrence of one kind is accompanied by an occurrence of another kind. On the other hand, Peirce recognized the existence of a different interpretation of probability, which was termed by Venn the ‘conceptualistic view’, namely the degree of belief that ought to be attached to a proposition. Peirce’s intent on writing this article seems to be to inquire about the claims of the conceptualists concerning the problem of induction. After reasoning on some examples, he concluded on the impossibility of assigning probability for induction. We show here that the arguments advanced in his article are not sufficient to support such conclusion. Peirce’s thoughts on the probability of induction surely may have influenced statisticians and research scientists of the 20th century in shaping data analysis. (shrink)