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One of the most significant results of ordinary language philosophy is Strawson's dissolution of the problem of induction. 1 There have been many attempts to solve the problem of induction by people who held the view that it is a general principle that any argument which may lead from true premises to false conclusions is invalid and who were perplexed by the fact that inductive arguments seem to violate this principle. Strawson's view differs sharply from that held by these philosophers who in his opinion have been laboring under the misapprehension that for inductive reasoning to be justified it would have to be shown ultimately a form of deductive reasoning. This he thinks is absurd since inductive reasoning is precisely that: inductive and decidedly not deductive. The question whether there are good reasons for believing in conclusions arrived at inductively simply does not arise for by the very rules of our language 'having good reasons to believe that p' means just 'p is the conclusion of inductive reasoning. 2 . At most one can inquire whether it is the case that by the rules of ordinary language if a certain event has been established by induction to be going to occur then it is called 'having a rational attitude' to expect that event to happen, and the answer is, yes. There is an important point here that has not always been appreciated. One may be tempted to argue impatiently that the rules of ordinary language are of little value in helping us to discover the nature of reality and that they cannot create facts. Whether a certain event E is going to happen or not is a factual question which cannot be decided by linguistic legislation. But Strawson explains that the linguistic rule according to which if it can be shown by inductive reasoning that E is going to happen then it is reasonable to believe that E is going to happen is entirely safe from empirical refutation. For if it turns out that E does after all not happen it can still be maintained that it was reasonable to expect that E was going to happen s and that in the context of the circumstances prevailing at the time it was correct to maintain that E was likely to happen. 199
SCHLESINGER Strawson ridicules the question 'Is the universe such that inductive procedures are rational?' since the nature of the universe has nothing to do with the question what beliefs are rational to hold. or a form or method of arjgument was valid or invalid would imply that it was deductive : It should however be obvious that the situation has not been correctly characterized already from the fact that future experience is fundamentally differently related to deductive than to inductive reasoning. The first point is his drawing a parallel between induction and deduction and going as far as claiming that in the case o f deduction it is even more obvious than in the case o f induction that validity is conferred by convention. Thus when we are convinced that p logically implies q then we can back up our conviction by something more than 200 . then if we now observe that q is false then . and q is said deductively to follow from p. For suppose it has been observed that p. No. He says that if someone asked what grounds there were for regarding deduction in general as a valid method o f argumant 'we should have to answer that his question was without sense. II Before probing any deeper into the matter let me mention that there are two points in Strawson's account which I am not going to defend. for to say that an argument.G.we cannot continue to insist that nevertheless we are correct in asserting that p logically implied q.unlike in the case of induction . which in my opinion he himself would withdraw were he to give more thought to the matter and which are anyhow not central to his thesis. While some philosophers have been antagonistic many others have endorsed Strawson's view that the problem o f inductica i' a pseudo-problem. if p is known to be true then the fact that q is false shows that the deductive rule we have used to arrive at q must have been invalid. It is purely a matter o f convention which may be upheld in the face o f any future experience that it is rational to assert that I have good reasons now to believe E is going to happen if this belief is a conclusion o f inductive reasoning. Indeed the measure o f his influence may be gauged from the fact that nowadays when someone is said to be engaged in investigating the problem o f induction he is as a rule automatically assumed to be engaged not in trying to justify induction but in trying to describe in detail the rules of induction.
Suppose we ask him whether he usually obtains by his method the right answer. When we claim that p logically implies q then at least part of our claim is that a situation can never arise in the world in which p is found true while q is found false. The second point concerns Strawson's apparent attempt to go beyond his original contention that methods other then induction to form beliefs about the unobserved are inferior simply because it has been agreed to call them irrational and say something stronger in their disfavor. One might then be inclined to think that it was not a method of finding things out at all. I never do get the right answer. doses his eyes. When Strawson says that this person's method 'was not a method of finding things out he must have either meant that in the past it was found not to be or that in the future it will not be found to be such a method. In the former case we must ask: not assuming now that induction is the only valid method or predicting the future .S This remark is either irrelevant or unwarranted. He considers a person who wishing to surmise what the future is going to be. II! Now 1 propose to raise some questions which go more to the heart of Strawson's thesis.for surely such an assumption would amount to begging the question .why should it be thought relevant that the method was unsuccessful in the past? What has past failure to do with future failure? In the latter case we may ask: What is the justification for thinking so? Since we are not assuming now the validity of induction what makes us inclined to think that the method may not be successful in the future? there does not seem to be any way in which Strawson's remark can be presented as both relevant and justified. but it is an extremely easy method'.STRAWSONON INDUCTION linguistic convention since our conviction carries a definite claim about the nature of the universe the truth of which cannot be guaranteed by any rule of language. asks himself the relevant question and accepts the first answer that comes into his head. He points out that it makes good sense to ask about a particular belief concerning the future whether its adoption is warranted for then we are asking whether by the accepted standards of induction it follows that the belief should be 201 . Strawson says: He might answer: 'You've mentioned one of its drawbacks.
( I ) Strawson is surely correct in saying that a person may well ask for instance 'Is it legal to bring into the country merchandise from abroad valued at $1000?' however upon being that it is not.G. Surely we would regard this quite incredible. However if in every language in the world the color green was denoted by 'green' then surely we would regard this as most remarkable and investigate the reasons for it. Strawson may well reply that he wished to claim only that we cannot give logical reasons for adopting inductive practices but by this he did not mean to imply that the rules which govern those practices are entirely arbitrary. he is not to ask 'Is the law which prohibits such an act legal?' Suppose however that we were told that in every country in the world it was the law that the limit for bringing in undeclared goods acquired in a foreign country was exactly $300. The situation according to him is very similar to that which obtains in the case of questions concerning the legality of certain practices. SCHLESINGER adopted9 However. is or is not legal9 For to what legal standards are we appealing. it makes no sense to go on and ask whether the application of those very standards is well-grounded. Also suppose that we were told that this limit has been laid down by the appropriate authorities in each country without any prior consultation with the authorities of any other country and without even the knowledge of the law anywhere else. 6 Strawson's comparison is a very useful one and I shall use it in my effort to'get a better picture of what his position amounts to. How come that without any collusion all the authorities arrived at exactly $300 as the limit for the value of what may be legally be imported from abroad? Surely there is no distinct feature of the universe which makes $300 as the natural sum for that purpose. we can and should give an explanation 9 202 . the legal system as a whole. One may sensibly inquire whether a given action is legal to which the answer will be given by an appeal to the existing legal system which sanctions or prohibits that particular action9 However Strawson says: it makes no sense to inquire in general whether the law of the land. Similarly then in the case of induction: what constitutes a valid form of inductive reasoning happens to be agreed upon to the very last detail in all the languages in the world9 How is it that all the people without exception arrived precisely at the same convention when there is nothing in the objective nature of reality which would call for such a convention? It is for example a convention in the English language that 'green' stands for the color green and we may leave it at that.
the economic factors which necessitate the law could be stated in detail in defending it. The explanation will be psychological. here too we ought to feel that the linguistic legislation in question is an unwarranted imposition upon us. When it comes to liguistic conventions then in some cases we are justifiably quite indifferent to the fact that there is no objective basis for their adoption.STRAWSON ON INDUCTION why there is a convention to employ these particular roles in empirical enquiries. That is. In a situation like this it seems we should want a good explanation why these rules. The explanation as to why everywhere in the world all people subscribe to the same rules of induction because it is a universally shared human urge to anticipate the unobserved to turn out the way they are predicted to turn out on the basis of these rules. For instance we are not worried why the color green is denoted by the word 'green' and not 'red' but then it makes no practical difference what word denotes green. had to be adopted. it does have the required features which make them psychologically attractive. which impose upon us the need for such burdensome activities. But in 203 . Suppose E is a highly undesirable event which we should very much want to avert but according to the rules of induction it follows that it requires action of considerable complexity and strenuousness to prevent E from happening. It may safely be stated that if people were to reach the conclusion that a particular law of country did not serve any useful purpose and that it merely causes inconvenience and its origin cannot be explained by nothing else but that it fulfilled a psychological need of the legislators then they would fight for the abolition of that law. This convention may have a great deal of practical implications. Such a question would not be left unanswered either. that is. As in the case of a law in connection of which we would be told that the sole reason for its enactment was to satisfy some psychological quirk on the part of the authorities. they they be shown to fulfill some legitimate purpose. The same applies to every law: we do not ask of course that they be legally justified but we do ask that they be justified in a satisfactory manner. while Strawson will deny that inductive reasoning are objectively superior to any other form of reasoning from the observed to the unobserved. (2) While good sense precludes us from asking whether the law prohibiting the import of unlimited amount of foreign goods is legal it is perfectly in order to ask why such law has been enacted in the first place. We should however not be indifferent to the question as to what linguistic convention determines the circumstances under which we say of event E that it is reasonable to expect it to happen.
While nowhere in his writings does he make any allusion to the thesis in question. but it might be contended that the reason is something we have already mentioned: inductive reasoning has strong psychological appeal. Yet I am sure there are many people like myself who feel that even if all the philosophers who had the highest regard for universally proclaimed conventions tried their hardest they could not talk me into accepting any new rules to determine the meaning 'a well-established hypotheses'. 204 . it is by no means necessary to assume that he would wish to reject it. the convention concerning what is to be called a well-grounded belief was altered. journalists and others who shape linguistic practices. IV In my 'Justification of Empirical Reasoning 7 I have advanced a thesis which I shall briefly discuss here and through which Strawson's position may be vindicated. then all of us would cheerfully go along with this change too? It would seem that we would not. Thus Strawson's claim that they are rules adopted merely by convention and his comparison between these rules and the legal rules which govern our behavior seem implausible. The essence of the thesis is that the inductive method as it is universally practiced is imposed upon us by a process of elimination: that it is the one and only one generally applicable method of forming hypotheses which will both account for the observed and make a concrete conjecture about the unobserved. But if the convention were changed we would be left with no rational grounds upon which to defend our beliefs arrived at by the old rules of reasoning. (3) In the case of the law against importing foreign goods above a certain value we can easily imagine that if the law were abolished then we would act accordingly and cease giving another thought about what we brought back with us upon returning from our visits abroad. Let me begin by considering for a moment the following rule for the selection of our hypotheses to be adopted: R: Always assume that the unobserved will be unlike the observed. SCHLESINGER fact we never question the adequacy of the rules of inductive reasoning. Would Strawson maintain that if by general consent of writers.G. we are left with after we have eliminated every other method as unsuitable.
the hypothesis 'All emeralds are green' is projectible while 'All emeralds are grue' is not. Goodman confines himself to stating it as a fact that everybody regards it as natural to use the most entrenched predicates only. he makes no attempt to defend this principle. A large number of solutions has been suggested. we must apply only the predicate which is most entrenched in our language as 'projectible'. It is clear that all our past observations concerning the color of emeralds permit us no loss to say that all emeralds have been grue than all emeralds have been green. Given for example that in the past Newton's law of gravity has been obeyed R tells us no more than that in the future we should expect that some other law will be obeyed.D. Joffreys and subsequently associated with the name of N. With the help of R we get nowhere and can form no opinion what law will be observed to govern the interaction of masses.D. If however we describe our experiences as having observed that all emeralds were grue and assume this to be true in the future as well we expect emeralds to look different after 2000 A. Goodman. of all the possible predicates we could apply to the subjects under investigation. and found blue. R does not lead us to the adoption of any particular one among these. But there are infinitely many law-like statements which differ from Newton's law. Therefore since the predicate 'green' is well entrenched in the language whereas 'grue' is not. Goodman's own solution is that there is a methodological principle according to which. It is obvious that we should reject the suggestion that we adopt R. But rather because of something which is much more clearly evident. This problem has been first discovered by H. But what about the rule always to assume that the unobserved will belike the observed? This as it stands would not be an adequate rule for the selection of hypotheses since it leaves us with the problem that there are infinitely many ways in which the observed may be described each description giving rise to a different expectation of what the unobserved will be like. I should like to point out however that if indeed the question should arise. because R is simply not a useable rule. Here 1 shall discuss only two. Not so much because it is not likely to lead to the correct hypothesis. namely.STRAWSON ON INDUCTION R has been called "counter4nduction". whether 205 . than if we subscribed to the hypothesis that all emeralds are green. His version of the problem is as follows: suppose we define Grue = observed before the year 2000 A.. and found green or observed after the year 2000 A J).
There are after all infinitely many unentrenched predicates such as 'grue'l which is defined like 'grue' except that '2001 A.' and 'Grue'2 and so on. grack'. It is seen at once that in the context of the example in which Goodman's problem has been raised the rule suggested by Barker and Achinstein is adequate: it disqualifies all such predicates as 'grue'l.G. 'grack'. 'gred'. SCHLESINGER we should use (a) the most entrenched predicates in our projections or (b) w e may (or should) use unentrenched predicates. the only entrenched predicate we find applicable to our past experience is 'green' and we are therefore led to the choice of the specific hypothesis 'All emeralds are green'. etc. a single patch of green paint in the present can represent the colour of all green things irrespective of their dates. then in a situation where we have made a large number of observations concerning the color of emeralds. If however we adopted (b) then we would not epfid up with the choice of any specific hypothesis. 'grue'2. and a blue one for cases thereafter. Barker and P.D. (b) provides us with no instruction whether we should select 'All emeralds are gruel '. the difference between positional and non-positional predicates is this: for all instances of application of a non-positional predicate a single picture of representation can be given. I do not wish to claim that either of the two proposed solutions have to be accepted.' replaces '2000 A. For example. Briefly. and the like when 'red' and 'black' replaces 'blue' in the definition. Achinstein.F. For in case we adopt (a). On the other hand at least two different representations are needed to cover all instances of application of a positional predicate. Then we have 'gred'. but two present patches will be needed to represent all grue things: a green one for cases up to 2000 A. then by just once more by applying the very compelling principle that the hypothesis-selection-rule we adopt must be at least useable in the sense that it leads to the selection of a particular hypothesis.D. The other solution is due to S. 'All emeralds are grue2' 'All emeralds are gred' or what. All I wanted to do is to illustrate that a solution which may be advanced with any plausibility at all must be based on the principle that we reject any rule that does not help us to select a 206 . s They advance the rule that we must use non-positional predicates only in our projections.D. On the other hand. and permits the use of 'green' only. the contrary rule which says that we should use non-positional predicates would be useless for it would leave us undecided whether we should adopt 'All emeralds are green' or 'All emeralds are grue2' and so on. we arrive at the conclusion that (a) must be adopted.
V I have not considered hypothesis-selection rules which rely on empirical data other than those which the hypothesis to be selected is to account for. some may have no access to it at all. and see how this helps us in asnwering the question raised concerning Strawson's thesis. what were the objective grounds upon which the convention to regard a belief arrived at by inductive reasoning as well-established was adopted in the first place the answer is: it is the only feasible convention we could have since any alternative set 207 . upon grasping the meaning of the rule we at once realize that it is unuseable. First of all. general applicability is a basic desiratum in the method we should want to adopt for selecting our hypotheses. It is my contention that any other solution that may look reasonable will presuppose this principle. It is also my contention that this principle ultimately leads to the rejection of all rules except the set of rules which constitute inductive reasoning as we know it. as 1 have already implied before. Hypothesis-selection-rules which require empirical data yet to be produced e.g. before we have adopted the set of principles which we shall use in empirical reasoning we cannot assume that a certain empirical method will indeed produce the required results. 'Choose the hypothesis that accounts for the observed data and which comes first into the mind of person P which requires that we obtain information about P's thoughts. Rather than considering further examples let us assume that any rule concocted by anyone and not belonging to the set of rules in actual use in inductive reasoning can be shown to be inadequate for whatever the nature of the universe. For example we cannot expect that a given bird will fly or even just that it will continue to exist the next moment unless we have already adopted some method for the selection of hypotheses which lead to the conclusion warranting such an expectation. Secondly.or 'Choose the hypothesis that accounts for the observed data by interpreting the flight of a certain bird' are to be excluded for several reasons.STRAWSON ON INDU(VFION particular hypothesis. Now a hypothesis-selection-rule which requires no other empirical data than those the hypothesis to be selected is to account for is equally available to everyone in the possession of these data while with respect to extraneous empirical information different people are differently situated. To the question.
m p. Ibid. p. 249.E. If we are to agree on any rules at all then these are the only viable rules we can have. it is not an arbitrary convention nor one merely arising out o f our psychological needs. What we may say then is that Strawson is quite right in claiming that it is a universal convention to regard it 'reasonable to expect that p ' in case p is the conclusion arrived at by the use o f the rules governing inductive reasoning. 249. However. 262.G.p. the a n s w e r is that we are dealing here not with an arbitrary convention but one whose reasonableness is inherent in the nature o f things.p.. July. 1968). NC 275 ! 4 USA NOTES I a s 4 s P. it will always be true that tile convention sanctioning the present rules o f induction is the convention reason imposes upon us.. p. Ibid. Strawson. 248- 263.. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA CHAPEL HILL.. s 'On The New Riddle of Induction'. P. Ibid. This fact no one can change. 1952). Ibid. To tile question what would happen if the convention were changed. Ibid. SCHLESINGER o f rules for reasoning. 259. 7 Philosophical Quarterly. 257.H. 1979. Nidditch Ed. 208 . (Oxford. pp. is not adequate for adoption. The Philosophy of Science. Introduction to Logical Theory (London.