Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ryan Murphy on Induction

Good thoughts here.

I never understood the induction bruhaha. Well, I guess I do. But it always seemed to be the result of people worrying about things that weren't worth worrying about.

Induction can be very helpful for understanding things. So use it to understand things. Make sure you are conscious of the fact that it is not a guarantee, and you're golden.

I've always thought about inductive and deductive reasoning in a production function sense too. For epistemological reasons, economists often take a deductive approach. That's fine. Deductive reasoning is a good thing. But we rely so heavily on it its marginal product has to be diminishing by now, and induction has to be worth giving a shot more often than not.

1 comment:

  1. According to Dr. Michael Emmett Brady, Bertrand Russell regarded John Maynard Keynes's discussion of induction in A Treatise on Probability (1921) to be the best on the matter. Keynes has an extensive discussion of the subject in Part III of A Treatise on Probability that is entitled, "Induction and Analogy".

    Perhaps you ought to look into Part III of A Treatise on Probability, Daniel Kuehn, but be warned! I don't mean to be a pedant, but Keynes's A Treatise on Probability requires a good amount of familiarity with philosophy and it also requires an undergraduate-level understanding of mathematics. (Since Keynes comments extensively on the literature of mathematics alongside philosophy, you'd better be familiar with the works of George Boole, John Venn, Augustus de Morgan, Thomas Bayes, and others!)


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