
John D.
Norton
Material Theory of Induction


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material theory of induction 

I am preparing a book with the provisional title The Material Theory of Induction. Some of the chapters in draft form are available for download. 
Download draft chapters. 
1, 3, 5, 7, ... ? 
Standard accounts of inductive inference are unstable, meriting skeptical attack. They have misidentified its fundamental nature. Accounts of inductive inference should not be modeled on those of deductive inference that are formal and noncontextual. Accounts of inductive inference should be contextual and material. I summarize the case for a material theory of induction. 
"A Material Defense of Inductive Inference." Download. 

The inductive problem of extending the sequence 1, 3, 5, 7, is solved when these numbers are the ratios of the incremental distances fallen in successive unit times. The controlling fact is Galileo's assumption that these ratios are invariant under a change of the unit of time. It admits few laws and only one is compatible with the twonumbered initial sequence 1, 3. 
"Invariance of Galileo's Law of Fall under a Change of the Unit of Time." Download. 

Here is a systematic survey of the many accounts of induction and
confirmation in the literature with a special concern for the basic
principles that ground inductive inference. I believe it is possible to
see that all extant accounts depend on one or more of three basic
principles. 
"A Little Survey of Induction," in P. Achinstein, ed.,
Scientific Evidence: Philosophical Theories and Applications.
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1905. pp. 934. Download. 

I do not believe, however, that any of these principles works
universally and can ever be applied without some sort of adjustment to
the case at hand. This has led to a proposal about the nature of
inductive inference. I urge that we have been misled by the model of
deductive inference into seeking a general theory in which inductive
inferences are ultimately licensed by their conformity to universal
schemas. Instead, in a "material theory of induction," I urge that
inductive inference is licensed by facts that prevail in particular
domains only, so that "all induction is local." 
"A Material Theory of Induction" Philosophy of
Science 70(October 2003), pp. 64770. Download.


In a material theory of induction, inductive inferences are warranted
by facts that prevail locally. This approach, it is urged, is
preferable to formal theories of induction in which the good inductive
inferences are delineated as those conforming to some universal schema.
An inductive inference problem concerning indeterministic,
nonprobabilistic systems in physics is posed and it is argued that
Bayesians cannot responsibly analyze it, thereby demonstrating that the
probability calculus is not the universal logic of induction. 
"There are No Universal Rules for Induction,"
Philosophy of Science, Philosophy
of Science, 77 (2010) pp. 76577. Download 

