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|Publisher:||At the Clarendon press|
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CHAPTER III. On the Inductive Methods. INDUCTION has been defined to be a legitimate inference from the known to the unknown. But the unknown must not be entirely unknown. It must be known to agree in certain circumstances with the known, and it is in virtue of this agreement that the inference is made. Now, how are we to ascertain what are the common circumstances which justify the inductive inference ? X and Y may both agree in exhibiting the circumstances a, b, c, but it will not follow because X exhibits the quality m, that therefore this quality will also necessarily be found in Y. Nor even, if twenty, thirty, a hundred, or a thousand cases could be adduced in which the circumstances a, b, c were found to be accompanied by the circumstance m, would it follow necessarily (it might not even follow probably) that the next case in which we detected the circumstances a, b, c would also exhibit the quality m. We might pass through a field containing thousands of blue hyacinths, but this fact would not justify us in expecting that the next time we sawa hyacinth, it would be a blue one. This form of induc- tion (Inductio per Enumerationem Simpliceni) may have no value whatever. In most cases, the condemnation passed on it by Bacon1 is perfectly just: ' Inductio quae pro- cedit per enumerationem simplicem, res puerilis est, et precario concludit, et periculo exponitur ab instantia con- tradictoria, et plerumque secundum pauciora quam par eet, et ex his tantummodo quae prassto sunt, pronunciat.' But when we have reason to think that any instances to' the contrary, if there were such, would be known to us, the argument may possess considerable value, and when, as in the case of theLaws of Causation and of the Uniformity of Nature, we feel certain, from a wide and uncontra- dicted ...