Nelson Goodman (1906–1998) until his retirement was professor of philosophy at Harvard University. In this selection, taken from his book Fact, Fiction, and Forecast, Goodman argues that besides Hume's puzzle over induction, there is a second problem: what are the rules for deciding which properties are projectable into the future? Why does seeing another black raven confirm our hypothesis that all ravens are black or that the next raven we see will be black but the seeing of three bachelors in a room not count as evidence that tomorrow we will see three bachelors in this room? Inventing a new color term grue, made up from our color terms green and blue, Goodman illustrates the problem of projectability.
Elgin, Catherine. With Reference to Reference (Hackett Publishing Co., 1983).
Goodman, Nelson. Fact, Fiction and Forecast (Harvard University Press, 1983).
Goodman, Nelson. Problems and Projects (Hackett Publishing Co., 1972).
Goodman, Nelson. Ways of Worldmaking (Hackett Publishing Co., 1978).
Mitchell, W. J. T. Iconology (University of Chicago Press, 1986).
Scheffler, I. The Anatomy of Inquiry (Hackett Publishing Co., 1981).
Confirmation of a hypothesis by an instance depends rather heavily upon features of the hypothesis other than its syntactical form. That a given piece of copper conducts electricity increases the credibility of statements asserting that other pieces of copper conduct electricity, and thus confirms the hypothesis that all copper conducts electricity. But the fact that a given man now in this room is a third son does not increase the credibility of statements asserting that other men now in this room are third sons, and so does not confirm the hypothesis that all men now in this room are third sons. Yet in both cases our hypothesis is a generalization of the evidence statement. The difference is that in the former case the hypothesis is a lawlike statement; while in the latter case, the hypothesis is a merely contingent or accidental generality. Only a statement that is lawlike— regardless of its truth or falsity or its scientific
Reprinted by permission from Fact, Fiction, and Forecast, by Nelson Goodman, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Nelson Goodman.