Link blog: philosophy, hume, euthypro-dilemma, epistemology

The Problem of Induction

Nice summary of Hume on induction.
(tags: philosophy hume induction knowledge epistemology science)

OK Go, The Muppets – Muppet Show Theme Song – YouTube

OK Go and the Muppets!
(tags: okgo muppets video music)

Mr. Deity and the Philosopher – YouTube

"Well, if I did order genocide, I'd have a pretty good reason, or at least, an apologist could make one up." Nice. The begging bit at the end is funny too.
(tags: euthypro-dilemma philosophy funny mr-deity religion)

A Sketch of an Anti-Realist Metaethics – Less Wrong

Nice explanation of the map/territory distinction, and seems to accord pretty closely with my own views on morality.
(tags: hume philosophy metaethics ethics morality less-wrong lesswrong)

5 thoughts on “Link blog: philosophy, hume, euthypro-dilemma, epistemology”

  1. Yes, that’s a good summary of Hume on induction: it makes clear the distinction between inductive fallibility (inductive arguments are not logically valid) and inductive skepticism (there is no good reason to believe the conclusion of an inductive argument).

    Personally I think that the massive empirical success of inductive arguments means that if philosophers cannot logically justify induction, then that is a problem for philosophers, and not for induction.

    1. Can’t you just work it backwards. Assert that induction doesn’t work and the entire set of laws in the universe flip completely at random from time to time. Then we try and estimate the upper bound on the probability that this particular set of laws we have right now will flip on the next experiment using the gathered data that they haven’t flipped on the previous 70 trillion experiments done in the LHC.

      If you then pick a 95% confidence limit (i.e. if the probability was the number we’re about to fail to calculate, there’s a 95% chance the universe would have flipped its laws), then the lower bound of probability of the universe behaving inductively on the next experiment is 0.95^(1/70tn). Consequently a universe in which inductive reasoning doesn’t work behave more inductively than something which is indistinguishable from one which does to the first fifteen decimal places or so.

    2. Personally I think that the massive empirical success of inductive arguments means that if philosophers cannot logically justify induction, then that is a problem for philosophers, and not for induction.

      I’m not sure this answers the anti-inductionist who predicts that anti-induction will start working because it hasn’t worked up til now. Hume’s pragmatism about the whole thing seems the way to go. Just defining induction as reasonable is a bit worrying too: all sorts of people would like to be able to just define their “way of knowing” as reasonable, as my discussion on Jerry Coyne’s blog alludes to.

      1. I don’t believe in your anti-inductionist. How could he manage to live? According to anti-inductionism, there’s no good reason to believe that fire will be hot today (just because it’s always been hot in the past), and no good reason to believe that it’s dangerous to jump off a cliff today (just because it’s always been dangerous in the past).

        1. I agree that the anti-inductionist could not have evolved in the first place (though of course, assuming that an anti-inductionist who happens to turns up will soon die is assuming what you wish to prove).

          That does seem to suggest that there’s not such thing as pure rationality separate from utility, assuming that induction is rational. As it happens, I think I’d agree with that: there are probably no Reasons that satisfy the hypothetical Philosopher of Perfect Emptiness.

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