Read another response by Stephen Maitzen
Read another response about Logic
I have two questions about logic that have vexed me for a long time. Smith has written two great books of philosophy. Now he has come out with a third book. Therefore, that book will probably be good too. Smith has flipped a coin twice, and both times it has come up tails. Now Smith will flip the coin a third time. Therefore, that flip with probably end up 'tails' too. The logical form of inductive arguments seems to contribute nothing; the premises seem to do no logical work supporting the conclusion - is that right? Smith has written two great books of philosophy. Now he has written a third. Any author that has written two great books of philosophy, and then writes a third, has probably written a third great book. Therefore, Smith has probably written a third great book. That seems a deductive argument, because the general premise was added. And if true, the premises do seem to support with conclusion with necessity, even though the conclusion is probable; it is the knowledge of the world and not the logical form that is doing the work. What about that as an argument to replace induction with strictly deductive arguments? In the coin toss example, the general premise "Anybody who flips a coin twice and gets 'tails' will probably get 'tails' on the third toss" would clearly be false, showing more clearly than inductive reasoning could why that would be a bad argument. Appreciate the continuation of the site!