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Extra resources for Monterey Containment Symposium Proceedings [Aug 26-28 1981]

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As the study of the adequacy of means to ends is called methodology, we arrive at the idea of a methodological justification of induction. Whether this strategy can actually be carried out and avoid the pitfalls of other approaches remains to be seen, but it is the strategy that I pursue in the following chapters. , the epistemic justification of beliefs arrived at via inference. These questions are closely related. A definition of what inference is tells us what we need to justify and constrains the types of explanations we can give as to why we infer.

Arguments of the form “Most A’s are B’s, x is an A; therefore, x is a B” seem to fit the bill, but appearances are deceiving, as Peirce later realized. 51 If x is an A identified by some biased selection procedure, it remains a distinct possibility that most A’s may be B’s and yet x fail to be a B most of the time. The only way to secure against the possibility of observational bias and ensure the randomness of the sample is to invoke some metaphysical principle like the Uniformity of Nature. And since such a principle cannot be justified a priori, neither can one justify a priori the appropriateness of probabilistic or statistical types of inference along these lines.

The question at issue is the reliability of induction, so surely we can’t appeal to induction to justify induction, at least not by using the very inference rule in question as part of its own justification. The idea that “selfauthentication is no authentication”24 is highly intuitive and cannot be lightly dismissed. But the reliabilist has a seemingly decisive rejoinder: In deductive logic, if an inference from A to B is valid, then the truth of B can be justifiably inferred from the truth of A without requiring as a premise a statement that the inference is valid.

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