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SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF THE PROBLEM OF INDUCTION

  • Fabrizio Cariani
Extract

White advances two central claims. The first is that a version of the problem of induction involves the reliability principle.

Reliability principle: If S considers whether the methods or rules she followed in concluding P are reliable, and she is not justified in believing that they are reliable, then she is not justified in believing P.

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f-cariani@northwestern.edu
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1 Specifically, White supposes it is legitimate to determine the reliability of a method relative to a single observational history. This is only legitimate if we are talking about actual reliability.

2 Note that what counts as excitingly irregular depends on what sorts of methods Theo uses.

3 This is my reconstruction: I do not know if White would accept it. As I mentioned earlier, it's not clear that White expects to have an argument for (J1) It might be enough for him to cast sufficient doubt on the negation of (J1). I set this up as an argument because it facilitates my making of certain points.

4 I believe it is valid. But proving that it is requires making assumptions about the semantics of conditionals and probability operators that are not necessary here.

5 There are notorious problems with formulating the principle of indifference, but none of these are the basis of my worry. I am convinced by White's contention that there ought to be some cleaned up (or appropriately restricted) version of the principle that rationalizes the sorts of intuitive judgments that underlie the principle of indifference (e.g. that a randomly chosen string of letters is unlikely to be the complete text of Moby Dick).

6 An interesting option here would be to explore the possibility that we might have default justification for the outputs of the indifference methods even if, following White's argument, we do not have default justification for the consequences of inductive methods.

7 At the Episteme conference, I expressed some hope that this might be false, but the argument in this paragraph and a conversation with Selim Berker convinced me otherwise.

8 I am grateful to Mike Caie, Roger White and the participants to the 10th Episteme Conference for discussion. I also thank Jennifer Lackey for organizing the conference.

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Episteme
  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
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