[lit-ideas] Re: Back to Popper (and further back to Hume)

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 20:52:38 +0000 (GMT)

--- Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Donal, in England, wrote:
> > Hume is not consistent a philosopher and so quoting him can be used to
> > support this and the opposite: for example, his logical attack on
> induction
> > is at odds with his defence of it as a _well-based_ psychological habit.
> The passages I quoted set out a purely logical point.

No they don't. Far from it. (We may come back to this).

> Donal's response, insofar as I understand it was that this was wrong (?),
> because '...there is no inductive probability. There is just as
> much...chance
> of the third box containing...' And here, he lists what might be in the
> box,
> (but does not close the sentence, i.e., does not say that there is just 
> as much
> chance of one of the things on his list's being in it as there
> is...(what?).

Yes, they are equiprobable. I.E. None is logically more probable than the
other. This is what is valid about Humies attack on induction.

> Let's let this grammatical incoherence pass. 

There was no grammatical incoherence to let pass. Even if there was or were,
it would be beside the point. (See above for the point).

Hume thought that chance applied to the possibility of one
> of
> two things taking place--either x or y. Probability deals with the
> possibility
> of one or more of a number of things but at least more than two's 
> taking place.

Again this does nothing to defend inductive probability. Since inductive
probability is the underlying issue why say something that, even if true, is
entirely irrelevant.

Also, if you understand his argument as it undermines inductive probability,
it does not matter how many or few boxes we offer up for consideration
(something another previous correspondent failed to see): the point is that
there is no logical way to deduce what is in the next box on the basis of
what has been in the previous boxes (no matter how few or how many).


> Donal adds that the possibility of anything at all's being inside the 
> box (given
> perhaps the constraint imposed by the dimensions of the box) is 'the
> logical
> point.' Maybe someday he will explain that to us.

The point is straightforward and only a philosopher (of the bad kind) could
miss it or require "explanation". Viz. What can we deduce about the contents
of the third box from the contents of the first two boxes?

Insofar as Hume says NOTHING he is right. Of course Popper is right also in
saying "But we can guess".


> Robert Paul
> Reed College
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