Inductive Exemplification in Real and Thought Experiments


  • Marco Buzzoni University of Macerata



Exemplification, Induction, Inductive Exemplification, Norton’s Argumentative View, Popper’s criticism of induction, Thought Experiment


The New Experimentalism, given its opposition between experimental practices and fundamental theories, had to address the problem of the relationship between the particularity of the former and the generality of the latter. Other authors (from Charles A. Baylis and Nelson Goodman to Catherine Elgin) used the concept of exemplification to clarify the relationship between particular and universal/general concepts or laws. But one may ask whether, while hinting at a point of view that can illuminate new aspects of the problem, they have not ultimately left the problem itself unresolved. This article, on the basis of considerations developed elsewhere and following a suggestion found in Aristotle, proposes to link the concept of exemplification to the problem of induction and abduction, both understood here as a multiplicity of methodical procedures aimed at establishing a cognitive relationship between the reproducibility of scientific concepts or laws and the concreteness, locality, and situated character of experimental practices. A necessary prerequisite for the solution of the problem raised by this relationship is the distinction between two senses – one reflexive-transcendental, the other genetic-methodological – of the discovery/justification pair of concepts. This will shed light, at the same time, on the long-standing problem of induction and on the problem of the relationship between the universality of scientific laws and the always local and situated character of experimental practices. The last part of the article shows how these conclusions also apply to thought experiments, briefly discussing John Norton’s account.


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