, Volume 191, Issue 4, pp 671–690 | Cite as

A material dissolution of the problem of induction

  • John D. Norton


In a formal theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by universal schemas. In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are licensed by facts. With this change in the conception of the nature of induction, I argue that the celebrated “problem of induction” can no longer be set up and is thereby dissolved. Attempts to recreate the problem in the material theory of induction fail. They require relations of inductive support to conform to an unsustainable, hierarchical empiricism.


Problem of induction Material theory of induction Infinite regress 



I am grateful to Jim Bogen for comments and for first suggesting that I apply the material approach to the problem of induction; for much stimulating discussion from Peter Achinstein, Thomas Kelly and John Worrall at a symposium at PSA 2008; for discussion by the Center for Philosophy of Science Reading Group, April 12, 2010 (Natalie Gold, Slobodan Perovic, Wolfgang Pietsch, Susan Sterrett, Tad Szubka); and from Anil Gupta.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Center for Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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