Philosophical Studies

, Volume 162, Issue 2, pp 319–332 | Cite as

Is the Humean defeated by induction?

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Humeanism Regularity theory Laws of nature Problem of induction Explanation Hume Armstrong Law of large numbers 

References

  1. Armstrong, D. M. (1983). What is a law of nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bird, A. (2005). The ultimate argument against Armstrong’s contingent necessitation view of laws. Analysis, 65, 147–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bird, A. (2007). Nature’s metaphysics: Laws and properties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Campbell, S., & Franklin, J. (2004). Randomness and the justification of induction. Synthese, 138, 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de Finetti, B. (1964). Foresight: Its logical laws, its subjective sources. A translation by H. Kyburg of (Finetti 1937). In H. Kyburg & H. Smokler (Eds.), Studies in subjective probability. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Ellis, B. (2001). Scientific essentialism. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Everitt, N. (1991). Strawson on laws and regularities. Analysis, 51(4), 206–208.Google Scholar
  8. Giaquinto, M. (1987). Review of Stove 1986. Philosophy of Science, 54, 612–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goodman, N. (1983). Fact fiction and forecast. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kelly, K., & Schulte, O. (1997). Church’s thesis and Hume’s problem. In M. L. Della Chiara et al. (Eds.), Logic and scientific methods (pp. 383–398). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  11. Lewis, D. (1973). Counterfactuals. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Lewis, D. (1994). Humean supervenience debugged. Mind, 412, 273–490.Google Scholar
  13. Lipton, P. (1991). Inference to the best explanation (2nd ed.). Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Mumford, S. (2004). Laws in nature. Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Philosophy. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Stove, D. C. (1986). The rationality of induction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Vickers, J. (2006). The problem of induction. The Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/.
  17. Williams, D. (1947). The ground of induction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations