J.S. Mill’s Canons of Induction: from True Causes to Provisional Ones

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Ducheyne, Steffen
preprint description
In this essay, my aim is twofold: to clarify how the late Mill conceived of the certainty of inductive generalizations and to offer a systematic clarification of the limited domain of application of the Mill’s Canons of Induction. I shall argue that Mill’s views on the certainty of knowledge changed overtime and that this change was accompanied by a new view on the certainty of the inductive results yielded by the Canons of Induction. The key message of the later editions of The System of Logic as conceived by the late Mill was no longer that by the Canons of Induction we can establish scientific certainty and true causes, but rather that the Canons are useful in establishing causal laws in a provisional way.