Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nato writes:

[W]e can sidestep Humean circularity if we cease throwing modal logic at the problem in the hopes that we'll somehow arrive at some granule of non-contingent empiricism. We don't need it. All we need to show to justify empirical belief is that the "inductive" approach is objectively (not merely intersubjectively ["we all do it"]) privileged.

Hmm. Finding an objective basis for induction is what I think we can't do. I think the more you learn about induction-- the more you study the statistical and high mathematical properties of the patterns that "common sense" recognizes as plausible-- the more strange and arbitrary the process of induction seems. One can mistake induction for an a priori truth because it seems simple to us. A more careful examination reveals that it is not simple at all, and it becomes implausible to treat it as a priori.

One is left with this: that we all do it, that we always will do it, that we can't escape doing it, that to engage in induction is an indelible part of our nature. And that's all we can say.


  • I agree that an objective basis for induction qua Hume's victim can be regarded as - at best - of extremely dubious prospects of ever being achievable. In shorter form, I don't think we can either.

    But there's a reason I keep putting quotes around the word. Popper isn't important because he redeems induction, he's important because he shows that assumptions isomorphic to those declining from induction are objectively expedient. I want to say "most" expedient, but that would be rhetorical overshot for me.

    It's very convenient that the two match, since we cannot, as you note, abandon our induction-infused mindset even if we want to.

    By Blogger Nato, at 5:03 PM  

  • The universe cannot disobey logic. You may call that a "faith-proposition" if you like, though I will call it an axiom. Since the universe obeys logic, induction necessarily follows. It's no more complicated than that.

    By Anonymous Tom, at 9:11 AM  

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