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How the Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green Defeats What Is New in the New Riddle of Induction

John D. Norton
Synthese
Vol. 150, No. 2 (May, 2006), pp. 185-207
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20118767
Page Count: 23
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How the Formal Equivalence of Grue and Green Defeats What Is New in the New Riddle of Induction
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Abstract

That past patterns may continue in many different ways has long been identified as a problem for accounts of induction. The novelty of Goodman's "new riddle of induction" lies in a meta-argument that purports to show that no account of induction can discriminate between incompatible continuations. That meta-argument depends on the perfect symmetry of the definitions of grue/bleen and green/blue, so that any evidence that favors the ordinary continuation must equally favor the grue-ified continuation. I argue that this very dependence on the perfect symmetry defeats the novelty of the new riddle. The symmetry can be obtained in contrived circumstances, such as when we grue-ify our total science. However, in all such cases, we cannot preclude the possibility that the original and grue-ified descriptions are merely notationally variant descriptions of the same physical facts; or if there are facts that separate them, these facts are ineffable, so that no account of induction should be expected to pick between them. In ordinary circumstances, there are facts that distinguish the regular and grue-ified descriptions. Since accounts of induction can and do call upon these facts, Goodman's meta-argument cannot provide principled grounds for the failure of all accounts of induction. It assures us only of the failure of accounts of induction, such as unaugmented enumerative induction, that cannot exploit these symmetry breaking facts.

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