March 2015   I’ve discovered and have been studying Renn Dickson Hampden (1793–1868), the only person I’ve found who came to the same conclusions I have about Aristotelian induction.   One of his great insights was noticing that in De Interpretatione, Aristotle says that “all” in “All men are mortal” functions as an adverb, not as an adjective. It qualifies the predicate, not the subject.

 

Blog

 

The History of Induction

Induction has not always been thought of as some intractable problem, and David Hume didn’t think he had anything important to say about it. Those are just two misconceptions about the history of induction.

Here is what really happened.

 

Mill Came to Bury Induction, Not to Praise It.

Free Will: A Kind of Will

Ethics: The Science for Finding Happiness

Analytic Statements and Organic Concepts

I Have a Right. Don’t Try to Stop Me.

More . . .

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Scholarship

The main theme of my research is that the philosophical problem of induction is an artifact of a bad turn taken in the early 19th century, by which induction came to be conceived as a logic of propositional inference that depends on a suppressed uniformity principle. In antiquity and from Bacon to Whewell, induction was instead conceived as a logic of classification.

Teaching

Since 2012, I have been teaching one seminar every fall for the Political Theory Project at Brown University. Two have been on 20th-century defenders of capitalism, one on Ayn Rand specifically. I taught similar seminars and ones on history of scientific method for several years at Stanford University. In 2011, I taught a course on history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Service

Board of Advisors, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology • Occasional referee for HOPOS • Founder and Chairman, Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, 2001–10 • Board Member, Ayn Rand Institute, 2004–10 • Advisor, John P. McCaskey Foundation

Students’ Comments

“By far the most challenging and most rewarding course I’ve taken thus far at Stanford.” • “One of the best classes I’ve taken at Brown!” • “I’ve always liked precision of logic but wasn’t aware how it could be applied to morality.” • “It’s one of those classes that changes the way you look at things.”

Photograph of JohnAfter spending twenty years in the computer business, I went back to school and got a PhD in history from Stanford. I mostly now research the history of philosophy of science. I blog once a month on various topics from (what I think is) an Objectivist perspective.

 

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