Induction in general

The freewheeling use of the word “induction” is a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes it is used to mean any legitimate, non-deductive inference. Sometimes it is used narrowly be mean the inference from Observed Fs are G to All Fs are G. Sometimes it is carelessly used to mean both and other things besides. While I was sorting through old documents, I found this list of importantly different things that get paraded around under the banner of induction.

When I wrote this list back in February 2021, I think that I imagined it forming the nucleus of a paper. I’m not sure what to add, though, besides the genuine wish that there were better vocabulary for this. *sigh*


⚗️ 1 🔭 Inferring general claims about an arbitrary population from a sample

🔬 2 🧫 Inferring general claims about a kind from an instance/exemplar

  • The general claims may be phenomenological or fundamental
  • Predicting the future
  • Figuring out what happened in the past
  • Figuring out what far away places are like, what is going on there

👩‍🔬 3 🧪 Inferring causal structure of a system

  • Diagnosing the cause of a particular outcome
  • Understanding why the past went as it did

🧬 4 ⚛️ Figuring out what unobserved entities exist

  • Because of the poverty of evidence
  • Because the entities are a different kind of thing

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