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Author Groarke, Louis ♦ Mccaskey, John P.
Source CiteSeerX
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Subject Domain (in DDC) Computer science, information & general works ♦ Data processing & computer science
Abstract Induction remains a vexing problem. But, Louis Groarke says, we brought it on ourselves by a wrong turn made about four hundred years ago. He says we should return to a traditional, pre-Cartesian account of induction, one that owes its origin to Aristotle. In this addition to the McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas, Groarke attempts to revive and extend Aristotle's account of induction and to present it as a solution to that vexing problem. Groarke's project is a welcome one. I will explore whether he succeeds after summarizing his thesis. Aristotle says that induction (epagōgē) is a progression from particulars to a universal. But there is an ambiguity here. Does he mean proceeding from particular things (or groups of things) to a universal concept or term? Or does he mean proceeding from particular statements to a universal statement? The first is-- or is somehow related to-- abstraction and concept-formation. The second is a process of propositional inference. A common reading of Aristotle is that he was simply confused on the matter. In several passages, especially Posterior Analytics B 19, Aristotle seems to mean the first, but the mentions of epagōgē there are fleeting and frequently opaque. In his only in-depth treatment, Prior Analytics B 23, Aristotle is clearly referring to propositional inference and specifically a kind of syllogism. The core of Groarke's project is a reconciliation of
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