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Induction and reason: Cognitive tendencies under the tribunal of experience

Hilan Bensusan, Induction and reason: Cognitive tendencies under the tribunal of experience. Proceedings of the 23rd International Wittgenstein Symposium. ISSN 1022-3398, pp. 77–84. September 2000. PDF, 91 Kbytes.

Abstract

Induction, crucial ingredient in the growth of knowledge, is not completely amenable to rational scrutiny. Ever since Hume, it is clear that a full blown justification of induction that would make it the keystone of our knowledge of the external world is out of question. However, what is the relation between our inductive practises and our canons of justification? What is the relation between induction, driven by habits or causal mechanisms, and rationality? One can dismiss these questions by playing down reason and justification. The naturalists, in a long tradition that goes back to Hume himself, suggest that talk of justification or reason is out of place. Induction is a causal mechanism, driven by our cognitive instincts. Alternatively, one can find ways to conciliate cognitive mechanisms behind induction and the space of reasons so that both can be shown to be compatible. This paper intends to work out a plausible version of this compatibilism.

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