more from A.J. Ayer

Single Idea 5191

[catalogued under 14. Science / C. Induction / 3. Limits of Induction]

Full Idea

It is often said that we can justify induction by invoking the uniformity of nature, but that principle merely states (in a misleading fashion) the assumption that past experience is a reliable guide to the future.

Gist of Idea

We can't use the uniformity of nature to prove induction, as that would be circular


A.J. Ayer (Language,Truth and Logic [1936], Ch.2)

Book Reference

Ayer,A.J.: 'Language, Truth and Logic' [Penguin 1974], p.66

A Reaction

That is correct, but it seems to me that if you take the uniformity of nature as a provisional unproven axiom, then induction is an account of how rational creatures cope with the situation. If nature ceases to be uniform, our reason cannot cope.