Induction and Epistemological Naturalism
AbstractEpistemological 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
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Johansson, L.-G. Induction and Epistemological Naturalism. Philosophies 2018, 3, 31.
Johansson L-G. Induction and Epistemological Naturalism. Philosophies. 2018; 3(4):31.Chicago/Turabian Style
Johansson, Lars-Göran. 2018. "Induction and Epistemological Naturalism." Philosophies 3, no. 4: 31.