Skepticism about Induction

Ruth Weintraub

in The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195183214
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Skepticism about Induction


This article considers two arguments that purport to show that inductive reasoning is unjustified: the argument adduced by Sextus Empiricus and the (better known and more formidable) argument given by Hume in the Treatise. While Sextus’ argument can quite easily be rebutted, a close examination of the premises of Hume’s argument shows that they are seemingly cogent. Because the sceptical claim is very unintuitive, the sceptical argument constitutes a paradox. And since attributions of justification are theoretical, and the claim that they are never (or seldom) true isn’t preposterous, the correct response to the paradox may well be to admit that the sceptic has exposed our error in making them.

Keywords: skeptical argument; induction; Sextus Empiricus; David Hume; false conclusion; true premises; K. R. Popper; L. J. Savage

Article.  8816 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology ; Philosophy of Science

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