A mug's game? Solving the problem of induction with metaphysical presuppositions

In John Earman & John Norton (eds.), PhilSci Archive (2004)
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A Mug's Game? Solving the Problem of Induction with Metaphysical Presuppositions Nicholas Maxwell Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London Email: [email protected] Website: www.ucl.ac.uk/from-knowledge-to-wisdom . Abstract This paper argues that a view of science, expounded and defended elsewhere, solves the problem of induction. The view holds that we need to see science as accepting a hierarchy of metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these theses asserting less and less as we go up the hierarchy. It may seem that this view must suffer from vicious circularity, in so far as accepting physical theories is justified by an appeal to metaphysical theses in turn justified by the success of science. But this is rebutted. A thesis high up in the hierarchy asserts that the universe is such that the element of circularity, just indicated, is legitimate and justified, and not vicious. Acceptance of the thesis is in turn justified without appeal to the success of science. It may seem that the practical problem of induction can only be solved along these lines if there is a justification of the truth of the metaphysical theses in question. It is argued that this demand must be rejected as it stems from an irrational conception of science.
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