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Reconsidering Causal PowersHistorical and Conceptual Perspectives$
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Henrik Lagerlund, Benjamin Hill, and Stathis Psillos

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198869528

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198869528.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited

Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited

(p.284) 12 Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited
Reconsidering Causal Powers

Howard Sankey

Oxford University Press

Howard Sankey reconsiders a special issue closely connected with causal powers—the problem of induction. He addresses a deep version of problem of circularity originally raised by Psillos, and argues that the circularity can be avoided. The key is recognizing certain epistemically externalist results of the Megaric consequences of the commitment to dispositional essentialism. Circularity can be avoided, Sankey argues, because it is the way the world is, rather than the inductive inference itself, that grounds the reliability of the inductive inference in his previous account. What are doing the work for Sankey here are the Megaric consequences of his adoption of Ellis’s dispositional essentialism. The uniformity in question is one that stretches across possible worlds: nature is uniform in the precise sense that there are natural kinds whose members all possess a shared set of essential properties. The significance of this commitment lies in how the possible and the temporal intersect through restrictions placed on the accessibility relation between the actual and the possible. Ipso facto, when considering questions about the future behaviours of objects, which is how Sankey understands the problem of induction to be, the uniformity of nature can ground the reliability of beliefs about those future behaviours precisely because the domain of possibility is restricted to those worlds accessible to the actual world, which is fixed by the commitments of dispositional essentialism.

Keywords:   powers, induction, dispositional essentialism, uniformity, circularity

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