Hempel’s Raven Revisited

Journal of Philosophy 118 (3):113-137 (2021)
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The paper takes a novel approach to a classic problem—Hempel’s Raven Paradox. A standard approach to it supposes the solution to consist in bringing our inductive logic into “reflective equilibrium” with our intuitive judgements about which inductive inferences we should license. This approach leaves the intuitions as a kind of black box and takes it on faith that, whatever the structure of the intuitions inside that box might be, it is one for which we can construct an isomorphic formal edifice, a system of inductive logic. By popping open the box we can see whether that faith is misplaced. I aim, therefore, to characterize our pre-theoretical, intuitive understanding of generalizations like “ravens are black” and argue that, intuitively, we take them to mean, for instance: “ravens are black by some indeterminate yet characteristic means.” I motivate and explicate this formulation and bring it to bear on Hempel’s Problem.

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Andrew Bollhagen
University of California, San Diego


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