Reviving material theories of induction

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 83:1–7 (2020)
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John Norton says that philosophers have been led astray for thousands of years by their attempt to treat induction formally. He is correct that such an attempt has caused no end of trouble, but he is wrong about the history. There is a rich tradition of non-formal induction. In fact, material theories of induction prevailed all through antiquity and from the Renaissance to the mid-1800s. Recovering these past systems would not only fill lacunae in Norton’s own theory but would highlight areas where Norton has not freed himself from the straightjacket of formal induction as much as he might think. This essay begins that recovery.

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John P. McCaskey
Fordham University


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