Next Article in Journal
Post-Modernism, Agency, and Democracy
Next Article in Special Issue
Natural Philosophy and the Sciences: Challenging Science’s Tunnel Vision
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Time and Life in the Relational Universe: Prolegomena to an Integral Paradigm of Natural Philosophy
Open AccessArticle

Induction and Epistemological Naturalism

Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University, 75126 Uppsala, Sweden
Philosophies 2018, 3(4), 31;
Received: 26 August 2018 / Revised: 24 September 2018 / Accepted: 30 September 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies - Part 1)
Epistemological naturalists reject the demand for a priori justification of empirical knowledge; no such thing is possible. Observation reports, being the foundation of empirical knowledge, are neither justified by other sentences, nor certain; but they may be agreed upon as starting points for inductive reasoning and they function as implicit definitions of predicates used. Making inductive generalisations from observations is a basic habit among humans. We do that without justification, but we have strong intuitions that some inductive generalisations will fail, while for some other we have better hopes. Why? This is the induction problem according to Goodman. He suggested that some predicates are projectible when becoming entrenched in language. This is a step forward, but not entirely correct. Inductions result in universally generalised conditionals and these contain two predicates, one in the antecedent, one in the consequent. Counterexamples to preliminary inductive generalisations can be dismissed by refining the criteria of application for these predicates. This process can be repeated until the criteria for application of the predicate in the antecedent includes the criteria for the predicate in the consequent, in which case no further counterexample is possible. If that is the case we have arrived at a law. Such laws are implicit definitions of theoretical predicates. An accidental generalisation has not this feature, its predicates are unrelated. Laws are said to be necessary, which may be interpreted as ‘“Laws” are necessarily true’. ‘Necessarily true’ is thus a semantic predicate, not a modal operator. In addition, laws, being definitions, are necessarily true in the sense of being necessary assumptions for further use of the predicates implicitly defined by such laws. Induction, when used in science, is thus our way of inventing useful scientific predicates; it is a heuristic, not an inference principle. View Full-Text
Keywords: induction; naturalism; evidence and justification; epistemic norms; induction and concept formation; induction and discovery of laws induction; naturalism; evidence and justification; epistemic norms; induction and concept formation; induction and discovery of laws
MDPI and ACS Style

Johansson, L.-G. Induction and Epistemological Naturalism. Philosophies 2018, 3, 31.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Article Access Map by Country/Region

Back to TopTop