Induction: Some Current Issues

Induction: Some Current Issues

Induction: Some Current Issues

Induction: Some Current Issues

Excerpt

Although the study of inductive reasoning and probable inference is often supposed to be of concern primarily to professional philosophers, this opinion is belied by the numerous fundamental contributions to the long history of the subject that have been made by mathematicians, and by natural and social scientists, as well as by philosophers. Moreover, many facets of the subject are being vigorously explored today by students who are associated with an even wider assortment of specialized disciplines than in the past. Indeed, in view of the conspicuous place inductive reasoning occupies in all adaptive behavior and in all inquiries into matters of fact, as well as in view of the increasingly prominent role that probabilistic notions have come to play in both the theoretical and the applied sciences, it would be surprising if active interest in questions concerning induction were limited to members of a single profession. But in any case, in consequence of the great variety of current investigations into diverse aspects of the subject, even an account of only the more salient of these studies cannot easily avoid discussing some questions whose bearing on other matters also examined may be far from clear. Accordingly, although the papers in the present volume were prepared for a conference on current problems of induction and are therefore addressed to phases of a common subject matter, just how they are related to one another is not uniformly obvious and is in some cases admittedly problematic.

The relevance of the essays to one another can be properly assessed only if the specific problems with which they deal are placed within the inclusive but distinct contexts in which the problems are generated. This cannot be done adequately in brief compass. But a useful perspective on these contexts can perhaps be gained by classifying the numerous questions about induction under a few major categories, subsuming under them the specific problem discussed in this volume, and noting some of . . .

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