A non-viable theory of induction in the turkey's. This is Baron Russell's
famous example of the Thanksgiving turkey. It's an American example meant
for the Harvard audiences. The turkey knows that the farmer feeds him
everyday. On Thanksgiving Day morning, the farmer changes his mind, and rather
beheads the turkey. The turkey, according to Hume, fails to see that the
Uniformity of Nature is a cancellable implicature (not Hume's words).
Ted Hughes, OM, would ask, "Can a turkey theorise?"
A viable theory of induction is Kneale's. Grice loved Kneale because
Kneale's viable theory of induction imported essential properties, or rather
O. T. O. H., 'viable' is figurative.
It's from French viable "capable of life", from Latin vita "life" -able. If
there was something important the Franks did was to lose their language
and adapt Latin instead. Old Franconian is preserved in Belgium though, but
they don't have 'viable' theories of induction there.
Viable was first used literally of newborn infants (in Livy's History of
In a message dated 2/12/2016 8:48:37 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
“Few new truths have ever won their way against the resistance of
established ideas save by being overstated.” Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder
Is he being influenced by Grice? Isaiah Berlin belonged to what Grice
called "the right side of the tracks". Grice didn't. But Berlin surely knew
Grice that Englishmen (true Englishmen) love an understatement. So his
quotation is meant to irritate the Englishman in Grice! (Grice calls an
understatement an 'implicature').
This quotation prompts the following thoughts on Popper's non-inductivist
theory of knowledge. First, some of the resistance to Popper has taken the
form of saying he has a case but it is overstated."
Or, rather, in Griceian jargon, non-implicated.
"A perhaps related ground of resistance is that Popper's approach leaves
the fundamental problems unsolved or untouched. Second, far from overstating
his case against induction, Popper introduced his case in a very limited
way - in relation to science and the logical characterisation of 'the system
of testable statements'. From this, it would not have been obvious to
everyone how thorough-going was the rejection of induction at any level e.g.
terms of human psychology, habit-formation etc. It would be easy enough to
misinterpret Popper's _LdF_ as offering an alternative non-inductive
characterisation of the 'system of scientific statements' (where the system is
depicted purely in terms of deductive relations) but where this
characterisation leaves untouched the need for induction in producing and
evaluating theories. The radical and revolutionary character of _LdF_ was
thus not obvious to most of Popper's critics who trivialised its results by
interpreting them as a superficial exercise within a very limited domain.
Third, what 'LdF' sought to do was explain the 'system of scientific
statements' in terms of deductive logic combined with 'methodolgical
to show that scientific method did not depend on induction. Fourth, this
was the opening salvo, addressing the key issue of 'scientific knowledge',
in an approach that denied any role to induction in any form of knowledge.
Fifth, it might have been better if Popper had made this fourth point
clearer in _LdF_. Sixth, the case for the position in _LdF_ is twofold (1)
is no viable theory of induction - and we are no closer now to such a
theory than we were when _LdF_ was published, or than we ever were (2) the
non-inductive or hypothetico-deductive characterisation of science is viable
[albeit it offers no positive solution to the 'problems of induction' but only
a negative solution whereby induction is rejected altogether]. On these
twofold points, Popper's critics dissent. Yet where is the viable theory of
induction - or where is the evidence we are closer to one? And where are the
valid criticisms of the hypothetico-deductive method (once we have
cleansed the debate of the many confusions that philosophers fall into when
discussing these things)? Which takes us back to Berlin - for in the above
we may see the dangers of understatement or understating your case."
I think Popper's problem with induction (cfr. Strawson, "The problem of
induction", last chapter -- otiose one, to some -- in "Intro to Logical
Theory" -- where he acknowledges "Mr. H. P. Grice" for all he has never
to learn about logic") is that he found it logically boring.
O. T. O. H., his falsification theory, relying on the asymmetry of
existentially quantified utterances in the affirmative ("This is a black swan")
and the boring and so unrealistic universally quantified utterances in the
negative ("No swan is black; since, all swans are white"). Reichenbach
re-fined this with ravens:
i. All ravens are black.
ii. Except this one.
iii. Hey: that's an albino raven!
At Oxford, for many years, the only source of a theory of induction was
Mill's System of Logic, which was required reading for the 'Greats'. Grice got
so in love with Mill that he would call himself "Grice to the Mill" when
he could ("and sometimes when he couldn't, too" -- Sir Peter Strawson
quipped! -- Why is it that Oxonians have such a sublime sense of humour?)
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