, Volume 190, Issue 15, pp 3209–3226

The pessimistic induction: a bad argument gone too far


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-012-0138-3

Cite this article as:
Mizrahi, M. Synthese (2013) 190: 3209. doi:10.1007/s11229-012-0138-3


In this paper, I consider the pessimistic induction construed as a deductive argument (specifically, reductio ad absurdum) and as an inductive argument (specifically, inductive generalization). I argue that both formulations of the pessimistic induction are fallacious. I also consider another possible interpretation of the pessimistic induction, namely, as pointing to counterexamples to the scientific realist’s thesis that success is a reliable mark of (approximate) truth. I argue that this interpretation of the pessimistic induction fails, too. If this is correct, then the pessimistic induction is an utter failure that should be abandoned by scientific anti-realists.


Anti-realism Inductive generalization Pessimistic induction Scientific realism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentSt. John’s UniversityQueensUSA

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