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Logos & Episteme

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2010

Theodore J. Everett
Pages 303-324
DOI: 10.5840/logos-episteme2010127

Observation and Induction

This article offers a simple technical resolution to the problem of induction, which is to say that general facts are not always inferred from observations of particular facts, but are themselves sometimes defeasibly observed. The article suggests a holistic account of observation that allows for general statements in empirical theories to be interpreted as observation reports, in place of the common but arguably obsolete idea that observations are exclusively particular. Predictions and other particular statements about unobservable facts can then appear as deductive consequences of such general observation statements, rather than inductive consequences of other particular statements. This semantic shift resolves the problem by eliminating induction as a basic form of inference, and folding the justification of general beliefs into the more basic problem of perception.