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On Hans Reichenbach’s inductivism

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Abstract

One of the first to criticize the verifiability theory of meaning embraced by logical empiricists, Reichenbach ties the significance of scientific statements to their predictive character, which offers the condition for their testability. While identifying prediction as the task of scientific knowledge, Reichenbach assigns induction a pivotal role, and regards the theory of knowledge as a theory of prediction based on induction. Reichenbach’s inductivism is grounded on the frequency notion of probability, of which he prompts a more flexible version than that of Richard von Mises. Unlike von Mises, Reichenbach attempts to account for single case probabilities, and entertains a restricted notion of randomness, more suitable for practical purposes. Moreover, Reichenbach developed a theory of induction, absent from von Mises’s perspective, and argued for the justification of induction. This article outlines the main traits of Reichenbach’s inductivism, with special reference to his book Experience and prediction.

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Correspondence to Maria Carla Galavotti.

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Galavotti, M.C. On Hans Reichenbach’s inductivism. Synthese 181, 95–111 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9589-6

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Keywords

  • Probability
  • Induction
  • Epistemology