Inductive Inference and Its Natural Ground
An Essay in Naturalistic Epistemology
Hilary Kornblith presents an account of inductive inference that addresses both its metaphysical and epistemological aspects. He argues that inductive knowledge is possible by virtue of the fit between our innate psychological capacities and the causal structure of the world.
Kornblith begins by developing an account of natural kinds that has its origins in John Locke's work on real and nominal essences. In Kornblith's view, a natural kind is a stable cluster of properties that are bound together in nature. The existence of such kinds serves as a natural ground of inductive inference. Kornblith then examines two features of human psychology that explain how knowledge of natural kinds is attained. First, our concepts are structured innately in a way that presupposes the existence of natural kinds. Second, our native inferential tendencies tend to provide us with accurate beliefs about the world when applied to environments that are populated by natural kinds.