Induction and Justification, an Investigation of Cartesian Procedures in the Philosophy of Knowledge [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 28 (3):571-573 (1975)

Abstract

This work is a departure from traditional investigations of induction. Rather than consider issues related to the justification or construction of a scientific inductive logic, Professor Will exposes, evaluates, and rejects the epistemological framework within which work in the philosophy of induction is usually conducted. He argues that the frustrating difficulties faced in the philosophy of induction are endemic to that theory of knowledge which "resulted from the empiricist criticism and revision of the basic Cartesian view that knowledge is a kind of vision or intuition, that there are certain first intuitions, and that further knowledge consists of consequent intuitions elicited from or founded upon these." According to this view of knowledge, a knowledge claim can be justified in the face of the challenge of philosophical skepticism only if it is either itself indubitable or rests on some foundation that is indubitable. The burden of Will’s work is to show that this foundation or "justification" picture of knowledge is seriously mistaken and must be replaced with a more adequate and more realistic view. Human knowledge, he stresses, is best seen as analogous to a constitution. As human knowledge differs from area to area these constitutions differ, "just as history differs from horticulture and architecture from aviation." However, "collectively they form a huge sprawling entity that represents what may be thought of as the constitution for the institutionalized activity of human knowledge."

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