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 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)
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.
In this paper, I respond to Fabio Sterpetti’s (2018) attempt to defend Kyle P. Stanford’s Problem of Unconceived Alternatives (PUA) and his New Induction over the History of Science (NIS) from my reductio argument outlined in Mizrahi (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
In ‘Induction and Natural Kinds’, I proposed a solution to the problem of induction according to which our use of inductive inference is reliable because it is grounded in the natural kind structure of the world. When we infer that unobserved members of a kind will have the same properties as observed members of the kind, we are right because all members of the kind possess the same essential properties. The claim that the existence of natural kinds is (...) what grounds reliable use of induction is based on an inference to the best explanation of the success of our inductive practices. As such, the argument for the existence of natural kinds employs a form of ampliative inference. But induction is likewise a form of ampliative inference. Given both of these facts, my account of the reliability of induction is subject to the objection that it provides a circular justification of induction, since it employs an ampliative inference to justify an ampliative inference. In this paper, I respond to the objection of circularity by arguing that what justifies induction is not the inference to the best explanation of its reliability. The ground of induction is the natural kinds themselves. (shrink)
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)
This is part II in a series of papers outlining Abstraction Theory, a theory that I propose provides a solution to the characterisation or epistemological problem of induction. Logic is built from first principles severed from language such that there is one universal logic independent of specific logical languages. A theory of (non-linguistic) meaning is developed which provides the basis for the dissolution of the `grue' problem and problems of the non-uniqueness of probabilities in inductive logics. The problem of (...) counterfactual conditionals is generalised to a problem of truth conditions of hypotheses and this general problem is then solved by the notion of abstractions. The probability calculus is developed with examples given. In future parts of the series the full decision theory is developed and its properties explored. (shrink)
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)
Watkins proposes a neo-Popperian solution to the pragmatic problem of induction. He asserts that evidence can be used non-inductively to prefer the principle that corroboration is more successful over all human history than that, say, counter-corroboration is more successful either over this same period or in the future. Watkins's argument for rejecting the first counter-corroborationist alternative is beside the point. However, as whatever is the best strategy over all human history is irrelevant to the pragmatic problem of induction (...) since we are not required to act in the past, and his argument for rejecting the second presupposes induction. (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)
In a recent paper in this journal, Schramm presents what he takes to be an answer to Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction. His solution relies on the technical notion of evidential significance, which is meant to distinguish two ways that evidence may bear on a hypothesis: either via support or confirmation. As he puts his view in slogan form: “confirmation is support by significant evidence”. Once we make this distinction, Schramm claims, we see that Goodman’s famous riddle is dissolved, (...) and we are no longer forced into the “intolerable result” that anything confirms anything. Schramm makes a number of incisive observations in his paper, but I do not think he has solved the New Riddle. There are two reasons for this. First, Schramm has an overly narrow conception of what the Riddle amounts to; I would venture to guess that it is narrower than that of most contemporary philosophers. Thus his proposal does not address the primary concern. Second, Schramm’s notion of significant evidence relies on a counterfactual condition that bears more than a passing resemblance to that made famous by Jackson in his paper on the topic. However, Jackson’s proposal faces several well-known counterexamples, some of which can be adapted into Schramm’s framework. Schramm’s solution thus inherits a number of outstanding problems from Jackson’s proposal, which he has not shown us how to handle. (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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
According to Hume, the paradigm type of inductive reasoning involves a constant conjunction. But, as Price points out, Hume misrepresents ordinary induction: we experience very few constant conjunctions. In this paper, I examine several ways of defending Hume’s account of our practice against Price’s objection, and conclude that the theory cannot be upheld.
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)
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)
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 examines the problem of justifying induction, looks at some attempts to prove that it is justified, and responds to criticisms of these proofs. In the second part he deals with such topics as formal logic, deductive logic, the theory of logical probability, and probability and truth.
Many believe that Goodman’s new riddle of induction proves the impossibility of a purely syntactical theory of confirmation. After discussing and rejecting Jackson’s solution to Goodman’s paradox, I formulate the “new riddle of deduction,” in analogy to the new riddle of induction. Since it is generally agreed that deductive validity can be defined syntactically, the new riddle of induction equally does not show that inductive validity cannot be defined syntactically. I further rely on the analogy between (...) class='Hi'>induction and deduction in order to explain why some predicates, such as “grue,” are unprojectible. (shrink)
This paper constitutes one extended argument, which touches on various topics of Critical Rationalism as it was initiated by Karl Popper and further developed in his aftermath. The result of the argument will be that critical rationalism either offers no solution to the problem of induction at all, or that it amounts, in the last resort, to a kind of Critical Rationalist Inductivism as it were, a version of what I call Good Old Induction. One may think of (...) David Miller as a contemporary representative of what I consider as the ‘no solution’ version of critical rationalism, while Alan Musgrave stands for the version of ‘critical rationalist induction’. Popper’s own writings admit of either interpretation. (shrink)
It is common to assume that the problem of induction arises only because of small sample sizes or unreliable data. In this paper, I argue that the piecemeal collection of data can also lead to underdetermination of theories by evidence, even if arbitrarily large amounts of completely reliable experimental and observational data are collected. Specifically, I focus on the construction of causal theories from the results of many studies (perhaps hundreds), including randomized controlled trials and observational studies, where the (...) studies focus on overlapping, but not identical, sets of variables. Two theorems reveal that, for any collection of variables V, there exist fundamentally different causal theories over V that cannot be distinguished unless all variables are simultaneously measured. Underdetermination can result from piecemeal measurement, regardless of the quantity and quality of the data. Moreover, I generalize these results to show that, a priori, it is impossible to choose a series of small (in terms of number of variables) observational studies that will be most informative with respect to the causal theory describing the variables under investigation. This final result suggests that scientific institutions may need to play a larger role in coordinating differing research programs during inquiry. (shrink)
In a recent work, Popper claims to have solved the problem of induction. In this paper I argue that Popper fails both to solve the problem, and to formulate the problem properly. I argue, however, that there are aspects of Popper's approach which, when strengthened and developed, do provide a solution to at least an important part of the problem of induction, along somewhat Popperian lines. This proposed solution requires, and leads to, a new theory of the role (...) of simplicity in science, which may have helpful implications for science itself, thus actually stimulating scientific progress. (shrink)
The limited aim here is to explain what John Dewey might say about the formulation of the grue example. Nelson Goodman’s problem of distinguishing good and bad inductive inferences is an important one, but the grue example misconstrues this complex problem for certain technical reasons, due to ambiguities that contemporary logical theory has not yet come to terms with. Goodman’s problem is a problem for the theory of induction and thus for logical theory in general. Behind the whole discussion (...) of these issues over the last several decades is a certain view of logic hammered out by Russell, Carnap, Tarski, Quine, and many others. Goodman’s nominalism hinges in essential ways on a certain view of formal logic with an extensional quantification theory at its core. This raises many issues, but the one issue most germane here is the conception of predicates ensconced in this view of logic. (shrink)
According to the standard objection to backward induction in games, its application depends on highly questionable assumptions about the players' expectations as regards future counterfactual game developments. It seems that, in order to make predictions needed for backward reasoning, the players must expect each player to act rationally at each node that in principle could be reached in the game, and also to expect that this confidence in the future rationality of the players would be kept by each player (...) come what may: even at the game-nodes that could only be reached by irrational play. Both expectations seem to be rather unreasonable: a player's initial disposition to rational behaviour may be weakened by a long stretch of irrational play on his part and, even more importantly, his initial confidence in the other players' future rationality may be undermined by an irrational play on their part. For different formulations of this objection see Binmore, Reny and, Bicchieri, Pettit and Sugden. and Aumann and.). (shrink)