Book cover image for: Large-Scale Structure of Inductive Inference

The Large-Scale Structure of Inductive Inference


John D. Norton

$59.99 PB / $168.99 HC (S)

498 pages, 30 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-77385-521-9 (Hardback)

978-1-77385-522-6 (Paperback)

978-1-77385-524-0 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-77385-525-7 (ePub)

August 2024

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About the Book

A thorough investigation of the large-scale structure of relations of inductive support within the material theory of induction, according to which inductive inferences are warranted not by universal rules but by facts particular to each other.

The Large-Scale Structure of Inductive Inference investigates the relations of inductive support on the large scale, among the totality of facts comprising a science or science in general. These relations form a massively entangled, non-hierarchical structure which is discovered by provisional hypotheses that are later supported by other facts drawn from the entirety of the science. What results is a benignly circular, self-supporting inductive structure in which universal rules are not employed, the classical Humean problem cannot be formulated and analogous regress arguments fail.

Building upon and furthering The Material Theory of Induction, this book presents general claims and arguments for the large-scale relations of inductive support according to the material theory of induction, in which inductive inferences are not warranted by universal rules but by facts particular to each context. It begins with a thorough discussion of general claims and arguments for the large-scale structure of inductive relations, followed by case studies in the history of science that support, and further illustrate, those claims.

With The Large-Scale Structure of Inductive Inference, author John D. Norton presents a novel, thoroughly researched, and sustained remedy to the enduring failures of formal approaches of inductive inference.

About the Author

John D. Norton is a distinguished professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh. He works in history and philosophy of physics and general philosophy of science. He is co-founder of philsci-archive, a preprint server in the philosophy of science, and of &HPS, a conference series in the integrated history and philosophy of science.

Praise for The Large-Scale Structure of Inductive Inference

Norton’s important new book will be an essential touchstone for all future work on the logic of scientific reasoning. According to Norton, relations of inductive support in science form an intricate web. Norton’s account of this web is enriched by deep dives into illuminating episodes from the history of science. The book is also enlivened by Norton’s clear and accessible writing and characteristic good humor.

—Marc Lange, Theda Perdue Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill