In defense of Newtonian induction: Hume’s problem of induction and the universalization of primary qualities

  • Ori BelkindEmail author
Paper in History and Philosophy of Science
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. EPSA17: Selected papers from the biannual conference in Exeter


This paper aims to advance two claims. First, it aims to show that Hume’s argument against the rationality of induction is sound. However, I claim that the conclusion does not follow merely from the self-defeating attempts to justify the rule of induction, unlike traditional readings of the argument. Rather, the skeptical conclusion must also take into account Hume’s argument that the secret powers that are present in bodies and give rise to sensible qualities are unknowable. The paper’s second aim is to show that Newtonian induction escapes Hume’s secret powers argument, given that it includes a transductive inference, from observable phenomena to the powers present in the ultimate parts of matter. Consequently Hume’s argument against the rationality of induction does not demonstrate the non-rational nature of Newtonian induction.


Newton Hume Induction Problem of induction Transduction Primary qualities Scientific method 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Humanities FacultyTel Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael

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