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A Little Survey of Induction

Norton, John D. (2003) A Little Survey of Induction. [Preprint]

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      Abstract

      My purpose in this chapter is to survey some of the principal approaches to inductive inference in the philosophy of science literature. My first concern will be the general principles that underlie the many accounts of induction in this literature. When these accounts are considered in isolation, as is more commonly the case, it is easy to overlook that virtually all accounts depend on one of very few basic principles and that the proliferation of accounts can be understood as efforts to ameliorate the weaknesses of those few principles. In the earlier sections, I will lay out three inductive principles and the families of accounts of induction they engender. In later sections I will review standard problems in the philosophical literature that have supported some pessimism about induction and suggest that their import has been greatly overrated. In the final sections I will return to the proliferation of accounts of induction that frustrates efforts at a final codification. I will suggest that this proliferation appears troublesome only as long as we expect inductive inference to be subsumed under a single formal theory. If we adopt a material theory of induction in which individual inductions are licensed by particular facts that prevail only in local domains, then the proliferation is expected and not problematic.


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      Item Type: Preprint
      Additional Information: Prepared for Conference on Scientific Evidence, Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Johns Hopkins University, April 11-13, 2003; to appear in P. Achinstein, ed., Scientific Evidence: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives (provisional title).
      Keywords: induction confirmation probability Bayesianism abduction hypothetico-deductive evidence
      Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
      General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
      General Issues > Theory/Observation
      Depositing User: John Norton
      Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2003
      Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:12
      Item ID: 1446
      URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/1446

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