Is the Humean defeated by induction?
- Benjamin T. H. SmartAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Nottingham Email author
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Many necessitarians about cause and law (Armstrong, What is a law of nature. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1983; Mumford, Laws in nature. Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Philosophy. Routledge, Abingdon, 2004; Bird, Nature’s metaphysics: Laws and properties. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007) have argued that Humeans are unable to justify their inductive inferences, as Humean laws are nothing but the sum of their instances. In this paper I argue against these necessitarian claims. I show that Armstrong is committed to the explanatory value of Humean laws (in the form of universally quantified statements), and that contra Armstrong, brute regularities often do have genuine explanatory value. I finish with a Humean attempt at a probabilistic justification of induction, but this fails due to its assumption that the proportionality syllogism is justified. Although this attempt fails, I nonetheless show that the Humean is at least as justified in reasoning inductively as Armstrong.
KeywordsHumeanism Regularity theory Laws of nature Problem of induction Explanation Hume Armstrong Law of large numbers
- Is the Humean defeated by induction?
Volume 162, Issue 2 , pp 319-332
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Regularity theory
- Laws of nature
- Problem of induction
- Law of large numbers
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, University Park Campus, Nottingham, UK