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Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman's provocative philosophical classic--a book that, according to Science, "raised a storm of controversy" when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate. How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that ar Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman's provocative philosophical classic--a book that, according to Science, "raised a storm of controversy" when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate. How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that are warranted to be distinguished from those that are not? Goodman shows that these questions resist formal solution and his demonstration has been taken by nativists like Chomsky and Fodor as proof that neither scientific induction nor ordinary learning can proceed without an a priori, or innate, ordering of hypotheses. In his new foreword to this edition, Hilary Putnam forcefully rejects these nativist claims. The controversy surrounding these unsolved problems is as relevant to the psychology of cognitive development as it is to the philosophy of science. No serious student of either discipline can afford to misunderstand Goodman's classic argument.


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Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman's provocative philosophical classic--a book that, according to Science, "raised a storm of controversy" when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate. How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that ar Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman's provocative philosophical classic--a book that, according to Science, "raised a storm of controversy" when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate. How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that are warranted to be distinguished from those that are not? Goodman shows that these questions resist formal solution and his demonstration has been taken by nativists like Chomsky and Fodor as proof that neither scientific induction nor ordinary learning can proceed without an a priori, or innate, ordering of hypotheses. In his new foreword to this edition, Hilary Putnam forcefully rejects these nativist claims. The controversy surrounding these unsolved problems is as relevant to the psychology of cognitive development as it is to the philosophy of science. No serious student of either discipline can afford to misunderstand Goodman's classic argument.

30 review for Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Possibly the most beautiful book of analytic philosophy ever written (only Fodor's books are more aesthetically interesting and intellectually amazing - and it's no wonder Fodor "would most like to have written" this one). Much deeper and more searching than Quine, though in part sharing the latter's blindnesses and/or prejudices (for instance, there's a bit of behaviorism here). Absolutely essential for understanding the motivations of Chomsky; hence please ignore the intro by the recalcitrant Possibly the most beautiful book of analytic philosophy ever written (only Fodor's books are more aesthetically interesting and intellectually amazing - and it's no wonder Fodor "would most like to have written" this one). Much deeper and more searching than Quine, though in part sharing the latter's blindnesses and/or prejudices (for instance, there's a bit of behaviorism here). Absolutely essential for understanding the motivations of Chomsky; hence please ignore the intro by the recalcitrant and obfuscating Putnam. For it is just absolutely true that if we do not have a linguistically independent standard for the determination of similarity in cases of inductive inference, then grueness is a predicate; and if grueness IS a predicate, then we are completely unjustified in predicting anything to be 'green' rather than 'grue' (or, more scarily, IN CONFIRMING ANYTHING WHATEVER TO BE ANYTHING AT ALL RATHER THAN SOMETHING ELSE - which is, I think, what was on the relativistic horizon). This is called 'The New Riddle of Induction', which adds to Hume's logical and empirical relativism concerning induction an additional linguistic (hence 'predicate') relativism - no doubt due to the metaphysical cold feet induced by reading too much Carnap (and Goodman's cold feet were, in point of fact, freezing: his 'The Structure of Appearance', which foundationally informs this book, is MERELY a nominalistic rejoinder to the perceived excesses, believe it or not, of Carnap's 'Aufbau'). If this, however, doesn't make you fall in love with analytic philosophy for its own sake, you might not actually be thinking. Let me just rub in, class being dismissed, how fascinating this problem is: Hume thought that prediction was an inductive habit based on the recollection of past regularity. Well and dandy. Then the mighty Nelson Goodman comes along and very innocently asks, "Yeah, but WHICH regularity? Because last time I checked, the evidence, namely, all your past recollections of EMERALDS BEING GREEN, which confirms your 'all emeralds are green' hypothesis, is the EXACT SAME EVIDENCE which confirms 'all emeralds are grue.'" We KNOW that 'all emeralds are grue' is a fake hypothesis. That's precisely the point! We are trying to figure out what distinguishes a real hypothesis, one that tracks a natural law, from a fake hypothesis, one that tracks something about which there are no laws. It's easy to see the difference: consider 'all copper conducts electricty' vs 'all the copper in my pocket consists of pennies': even if all of the copper you've found in my pocket up to now consists of (pre-1983) pennies, and although it would be extremely odd for me to have a lump of copper in my pocket which wasn't a form of currency, all the pennies you've found in my pocket add up to no natural law. But all the copper you've found to conduct electricity do. Wherein lies the difference? That question is only a little academic: for failing the discovery, every regularity, even the genuinely lawlike, may have ghost regularities, which are purely accidental and yet are indistinguishable from the living thing. To deny the ghost regularities is, as Goodman notes, to beg the question. And, as I said above, if these ghosts don't spook you, you might be sleeping.

  2. 4 out of 5

    M

    "The New Riddle of Induction" I am actually at a loss with rating this. Interesting question posed about inductive inferences, but terrible, terrible wording of the examples. Still do not understand the raven paradox, and the "grue" riddle could have been phrased much better. I mean, really? Now let me introduce another predicate less familiar than “green”. It is the predicate “grue” and it applies to all things examined before t just in case they are green but to other things just in case they ar "The New Riddle of Induction" I am actually at a loss with rating this. Interesting question posed about inductive inferences, but terrible, terrible wording of the examples. Still do not understand the raven paradox, and the "grue" riddle could have been phrased much better. I mean, really? Now let me introduce another predicate less familiar than “green”. It is the predicate “grue” and it applies to all things examined before t just in case they are green but to other things just in case they are blue. Then at time t we have, for each evidence statement asserting that a given emerald is green, a parallel evidence statement asserting that that emerald is grue. Don't think we managed to come up with a definitive interpretation during the tutorial. Interesting question, however, which was really only understood after reading a lot of secondary sources, a simplified version of the example and quite a bit of headache.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Blakely

    Induction!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Greg Gauthier

    Nelson Goodman's famous GRUE argument, found in this book, turns out to be one of the least interesting things about it. Of more pertinent importance, in my view, is his exploration of the logic and the epistemology of the scientific problem of confirmation and prediction. What is confirmation, and what value does it offer us, in attempting to demonstrate the truth of our claims about reality? These questions and more, are addressed in this small but very dense volume. If you're a student of the Nelson Goodman's famous GRUE argument, found in this book, turns out to be one of the least interesting things about it. Of more pertinent importance, in my view, is his exploration of the logic and the epistemology of the scientific problem of confirmation and prediction. What is confirmation, and what value does it offer us, in attempting to demonstrate the truth of our claims about reality? These questions and more, are addressed in this small but very dense volume. If you're a student of the philosophy of science, you'll not want to miss reading this book, even if you've already read the GRUE paper separately.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Travis Williams

    All books are grue. Fact, Fiction, and Forecast is a book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Coco

    The French translation is probably outdated and at times inaccurate. Would've given 4/5, were it not for those misreadings.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Miceál Wilson

    A difficult read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian Powell

    The is Nelson Goodman's famous work that introduced us to color-shifting gems and other puzzles of inductive inference. It's a short text, divided into 4 lectures. The first one is Goodman's well-known piece on the "Problem of Counterfactuals", essentially, on the problem of assigning truth values to conditional statements in logic. It is difficult, and lies somewhat outside the main avenue of inductive inference which is the reason I picked up the book. I admit to not following much of lecture The is Nelson Goodman's famous work that introduced us to color-shifting gems and other puzzles of inductive inference. It's a short text, divided into 4 lectures. The first one is Goodman's well-known piece on the "Problem of Counterfactuals", essentially, on the problem of assigning truth values to conditional statements in logic. It is difficult, and lies somewhat outside the main avenue of inductive inference which is the reason I picked up the book. I admit to not following much of lecture 1 and so cannot comment further. Goodman's main contribution to the philosophy of scientific inference is his statement and examination of the projection problem of scientific hypotheses. This problem is layed out in lectures two through four. Lecture 2, the "Passing of the Possible", deals with what Goodman calls the problem of dispositions. A disposition is a quality or "capacity" of a thing, like flexibility or inflammability. The problem takes on the hefty task of understanding whether these dispositions are real, in the sense that an object's size and shape are. Something is flexible if it bends under suitable pressure; but the same object is still said to be flexible even if we don't apply the pressure, right? So dispositions deal in the possible. Goodman argues that the reality of dispositions depends on whether they are causal consequences of other predicates, reducing the problem to the discovery and enumeration of all these causal predicates. This discussion exists in the same rarefied air as the first lecture, and is in fact related to the problem of counterfactual conditionals ("If I had applied pressure to this object, it would have bent.") Though abstract, Goodman grounds it by tying it to the problem of induction by the end of the lecture: "the problem of projecting manifest to non-manifest cases [cases when the disposition is exemplified and cases when it is not] is obviously not very different from going from the known to the unknown or from past to future cases." (p. 58) This is the problem of induction. In lecture 3, "The New Riddle of Induction" Goodman declares emphatically that the problem of induction is not the justification of the program itself, but rather as the problem of defining the difference between valid and invalid predictions. So not the grand, meta-problem of induction as a method, but the use of it in its role in forming individual hypotheses and confirming predictions. The immediate problem is the difficulty in ascertaining the difference between lawlike and merely contingent hypotheses, the latter including accidental generalities. Only lawlike statements can be confirmed by data. This is Goodman's "New Riddle of Induction", and it is a formidable one: "the problem of justifying induction has been dipslaced by the problem of defining confirmation...this has left us the residual problem of distinguishig between confirmable and non-confirmable hypotheses" (p. 81) The conclusion -- that "lawlike or projectible statements cannot be distinguished on merely syntactical grounds" (p. 83) has important consequences for the theory of inductive logic developed by Rudolph Carnap, which we'll examine later. Goodman's argument at the close of lecture 3, that the act of confirmation presupposes a unique language, is further fleshed out in his fourth lecture, "Prospects for a Theory of Projection". Goodman elaborates on the problem of projectability in terms of his famous grue and bleen emeralds. A "grue" emerald is one that is green if measured before, say, July 1 2015, and blue if measured thereafter. Meanwhile, emeralds that are "green" are always green. We get into trouble if we try to do induction on the property grue: if we measure a bunch of emeralds today and find them all to be grue, this property will not hold arbitrarily into the future. Grue is evidently not a projectable property, whereas green is. The problem of projection, as layed out in Lecture 3, is how to tell these apart. Goodman's proposed solution requires that we bring past experience to bear on the distinction between predicates like "green" and those like "grue". "We must consult the record of past projections of the two predicates. Plainly, 'green', as a veteran of earlier and many more projectiosn than 'grue', has the more impressive biography. The predicate 'green', we may say, is much better entrenched than the predicate 'grue'." (p. 94) These are some of the first hints that an operative theory of confirmation is necessarily Bayesian in nature -- that prior knowledge of things is an essential ingredient in forming inferences.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Lawrence

    Tough going, particularly the last section. I found myself needing a lot more working memory than my brain had to play with. But thought-provoking and surprisingly profound.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tudor

    Brilliant book

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crito

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alec Julien

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ross Brian Stager

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bronek

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brett

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

  18. 4 out of 5

    Raiyan Ahsan

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Conlon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick Geiser

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Boss

  24. 5 out of 5

    James F

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gerardo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Max Newman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Ust

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mcdonough

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

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