A Critique of Nelson Goodman’s Concept of the New Riddle of Induction

The development of the method of induction has been privy to the presentation and solution of riddles. At the preliminary level of its improvement, it has been privy to the old riddle of induction discovered by Hume. After the answer of the former riddle, nevertheless, a model new riddle of induction was discovered by Nelson Goodman. In lieu of this, this paper opts to consider the development of the method of induction as a methodology outlined by Hume and Goodman’s conception of the Inductive methodology.

Induction refers to “a method of reasoning by which a basic legislation or precept is inferred from noticed explicit instances” (Flew 171). The technique of inductive inference may be thought of as the primary means by way of which justifications are formulated to show the relationship of proof in direction of particular assumptions (Godfrey 43). The process of induction, on this sense, could additionally be seen to come up each time we observe that evidence lends help to a hypothesis while in the process failing to determine its deductive certainty.

It was such a formulation of the strategy of induction that enabled the conception of the primary riddle. What follows is a presentation of the main arguments of the aforementioned riddle as formulated by David Hume.

Hume argued that since no essential connections exists between empirical phenomena, it is at all times potential that a future observation will prove our inferences incorrect regardless of how interesting it may have been or how richly supported by previous observations. This drawback, in the newer formulations of the problem has been known as the uniformity principle [in this sense the shortage of such uniformity].

According to the argument, nature has no uniformity. If such is the case, it thereby follows that there is not a voucher that which make positive the consistency of man’s most refined predictions. It may be argued that such an assumption has by no means been denied in the formulation of predictions nevertheless there has been agreement regarding the outcomes of such an agreement [or lack thereof] throughout the province of induction.

To some, it means that induction is rarely legitimate or justified, whereas to others, it means that induction simply calls for various standards of validity (Godfrey 63). The latter view strips the aforementioned riddle [Humean riddle] of its problematic context. This is evident if one considers that since the guidelines of deductive validity are inapplicable to induction, it cannot be an issue that inductive inference is unavoidably attended by the chance that a future remark might prove it mistaken (Goodman 4). The old riddle is then dismissed because it cannot possibly be the genuine problem of induction.

Fact, Fiction, and Forecast present Goodman’s construal of what he refers to as the new riddle of induction. After refuting the old riddle of induction [the refutation of which is evident in the former paragraph], Goodman proceeds to outline what he takes to be the genuine drawback of induction and its tentative solution. The downside of induction, he writes, is a problem of demonstrating the difference between valid and invalid predictions (Goodman 4). According to Goodman, a prediction is valid if it conforms to a sound rule of induction, and a rule is legitimate if it yields legitimate predictions.

He acknowledges that such an assumption is characterized by circularity nonetheless; he notes that it is important to perceive such a conception of the issue by means of the conceptions of justifications for arguments. Goodman notes that inductive predictions based on previous regularities work better than those based on some other alternative. If such is the case, the principles for formulating predictions have to be constructed in such a means that they’ll coincide with frequent practices of inductive reasoning. This, however, is further developed by the quality of predictions, which it produces.

This is clearly explicated by Rubenstein as he notes, “the centerpiece of a sound inductive logic [according to Goodman] is its reliance on previous regularities, and the prescriptive mandate of inductive validity is inseparable from a descriptive account of how inductive judgments are generally made” (39). This has been the outcomes of Goodman’s dissolution of the old riddle of induction. What follows this is Goodman’s explication that essentially the most promising solution of the aforementioned riddle is untenable. It is through the introduction of such untenability that Goodman presents what he perceives to be the model new riddle of induction.

Goodman presents two hypotheses which are to be addressed via the use of the inductive technique. One says that each one emeralds are green and the other says that each one emeralds are grue, the place grue is alleged to apply to all issues examined before t just in case they’re green but to other issues simply in case they’re blue (Goodman 10). Both hypotheses seem to be equally properly supported by the proof: all emeralds examined previous to t have been discovered to be green and grue. However, the two hypotheses are mutually unique. If emeralds are grue, they will be blue at t and thereafter, but when the choice speculation is correct, they will be green. Thus, we are left with the paradox that Goodman christened the ‘new riddle of induction’.

We can not, after all, justify induction by appealing to previous regularities. However, the reason, based on Goodman, just isn’t the dearth of the elusive uniformity principle, however the beforehand unrecognized ubiquity of regularities.  According to Goodman, regularities exist where one finds them. In relation to this Goodman states that one, nevertheless, finds them in all places (Godfrey 53). If such is the case, it subsequently follows that it is useless to base inductive validity on past regularities since it isn’t possible to predict and hence distinguish which regularities are valid and invalid.

At this level, I wish to present a abstract of the aforementioned discussion. In the aforementioned dialogue, Goodman believes that the old riddle [the Humean riddle/the uniformity principle] has been dissolved and that induction is justified by previous regularities.

The only remaining difficulty he sees, nevertheless, lies find a rule for distinguishing between regularities that do and don’t yield valid inductive predictions. As was noted in the above dialogue, the chance of such just isn’t possible. This is obvious if one considers that regularity necessitates the prevalence of acts of inductive inference. Therefore, the genuine downside of induction cannot be the excellence between the excellence of regularities that do or don’t yield valid inductive predictions because the specification of such necessitates the formulation of inductive inferences.

As I reckon, Goodman aforementioned conception fails to account for the method of induction. It is important to note that Goodman contends that induction begins with regularity. Rubenstein notes, “Induction doesn’t start with regularity – it ends with it” (44). The failure to consider this leads Goodman to misconstrue the problem of induction. It is important to notice that have of actuality does not necessarily begin with regularities but quite with individual observations. The function of induction, on this sense lies in providing us with justified strategies that permits us to posit the observations that we are going to account for as regularities. Goodman, nonetheless, didn’t account for this.

In addition to this, it is necessary to note that such a failure can be traced to Goodman’s assumptions relating to the process during which individuals formulate inferences. Goodman’s error is compounded when he makes a distinction between identifying regularity and projecting it. Once we now have determined that our observations represent regularity, it’s automatically projected in both temporal instructions. This is, actually, what we imply by making use of the term regularity to our knowledge.

Furthermore, Stich and Nisbett contend that the “equilibrium with inductive practices” that Goodman posited, as a essential facet in formulating a valid inductive methodology is “neither essential nor sufficient for a rule of inductive inference to be justified” (194). They argue that such an assumption fails to consider that “human topics regularly and systematically make invalid inferences” and that there an instance wherein human reasoning permits an individual to “accept invalid rules and reject legitimate one’s that ought to control the inference at hand” (Stitch and Nisbett 194).

In abstract, the aforementioned paper offered Goodman’s arguments in relation to his conception of the new riddle in induction. Such a riddle, however, underneath scrutiny could additionally be seen as based upon a mistaken assumption of the justification process of beliefs that necessitates the introduction of data garnered by way of the tactic of induction. This is obvious, for instance, if one considers the style in which observations enable the formulation of regularities and never the opposite method around. An evaluation of Goodman’s supposed riddle of induction thereby leaves the reader questioning if such a riddle could also be thought-about as a valid concern for the adherents of the inductive methodology.

Works Cited

  1. Flew, Anthony. A Dictionary of Philosophy.  London: Pan Books, 1983.
  2. Godfrey-Smith, Peter.  Theory and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  3. Goodman, Nelson.  Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.  Massachussets: Harvard University Press, 1983.
  4. Rubenstein, Arthur.  “Induction, Grue Emeralds, and Lady Macbeth’s Fallacy.”  The Philosophical Quarterly 48.a hundred ninety (Jan. 1998): 37-49.
  5. Stitch, Stephen and Richard Nisbett.  “Justification and the Psychology of Human Reasoning.” Philosophy of Science 47.2 (Jun. 1980): 188-202.


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