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David Stove

David Stove, philosopher

An enjoyable takedown of Stove, which acknowledges his strengths. Yes, it's 11 years old. I've just come across it.

It appears that the author planned to make this a part one, but I haven't found any follow-through. Still, he states his essential point.

All that said, Stove did state a view of the problem of induction that I find of interest. Suppose the size of the universe of swans is known. There are exactly 100 swans in the world. I haven't seen all of them, and I wonder about the truth of the statement "all swans are white."

Stove's point, if I understand him, is simply that the process called induction is simply a matter of getting closer to completeness. If I have seen twenty swans, and all are white, then the proposition in question is true of 20% of the universe of swans. If I see 10 more and the generalization holds, then it is true of 30% of that universe. At the limit, my sample IS the universe.

We naturally regard the generalization as better founded the closer the sample size gets to the universe. If that is all there is to induction, it doesn't seem that it warrants Hume's skepticism or, for the matter, elaborate defense.


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