Epistemic benefits of the material theory of induction

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    Abstract

    C. D. Broad famously labelled the problem of providing our inductive practices with a proper justification “the scandal of philosophy” (Broad, 1952). Recently, John Norton has provided a dissolution of this problem (2014). According to Norton, inductive inference is grounded in particular facts obtaining within particular domains (J. Norton, 2003b, 2010, 2014). Because the material theory does not involve a universal schema of induction, Norton claims it dissolves the problem of induction (which implies that such universal schemas cannot be justified). In this paper, I critically evaluate Norton's dissolution. In particular, I argue that the problem of induction is an epistemological problem, that Norton's material theory entails an externalist epistemology, and that it is a common feature of such epistemologies that they dissolve the problem of induction. The upshot is that the material theory is not unique in its ability to reap the specifically epistemic benefits of dissolving the problem of induction, and thus that the epistemic advantages of the material theory over extant alternatives in this regard are fewer than it may appear at first sight.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)99-105
    Number of pages7
    JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science. Part A
    Volume84
    Early online date22-Sep-2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020

    Keywords

    • Epistemology
    • Externalism
    • Internalism
    • Material theory of induction
    • Problem of induction

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