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On Failing to Vindicate Induction

Brian Skyrms
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 32, No. 3/4 (Jul. - Oct., 1965), pp. 253-268
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/186518
Page Count: 16
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On Failing to Vindicate Induction
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Abstract

The structure of Reichenbach's pragmatic vindication of induction is analysed in detail. The argument is seen to proceed in two stages, the first being a pragmatic justification of the frequency interpretation of probability which is taken as a license for considering the aim of induction to be the discovery of limiting relative frequencies, and the second being the pragmatic justification of induction itself. Both justifications are found to contain flaws, and the arguments used to support Reichenbach's definition of the aim of induction presuppose the availability of a type of predicate which generates paradoxes closely related to Goodman's "grue-bleen" paradox. Next, Salmon's "Criterion of Linguistic Invariance" is evaluated as a canon of inductive logic, which singles out the "straight rule" from an infinite class of convergent inductive rules. Upon close examination, its credentials are seen to be unimpressive. In connection with Salmon's work on linguistic invariance, we take a closer look at the impact of the Goodman paradox on probability estimator rules like Reichenbach's "straight rule." We find that its undesirable consequences for such systems of inductive logic cannot be escaped by Salmon's solution, or indeed by any solution whose motivating idea is to rule "queer" predicates out of court. Finally, the discussion of the Goodman paradox leads us to a modest methodological proposal for systems of inductive logic which incorperate probability estimator rules of the type at issue.

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