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Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction

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DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.21009    4,700 Downloads   7,626 Views   Citations
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In this paper, I consider Goodman’s new riddle of induction and how we should best respond to it. Noticing that all the emeralds so far observed are green, we infer (project) that all emeralds are green. However, all emeralds so far observed are also grue, so we could also infer that they are grue. Only one of these inductive inferences or projections could, however, be valid. For the hypothesis that all emeralds are green predicts that the next observed emerald will be green; whereas the hypothesis that they are grue predicts that it will blue. Goodman’s new riddle is the problem of saying why the inductive inference involving “green” is the valid one. Goodman’s own solution appeals to the idea of entrenchment. His idea is that “green” is a more entrenched predicate than “grue” in the sense that it has figured many more times in our past projections than has “grue”. In his view, this explains why “green” is projectible (can be used in valid inductive inferences) whereas “grue” isn’t. I argue that this response doesn’t go far enough and that we additionally need an explanation of why “green” is more entrenched than “grue”—that we are otherwise left with the unsatisfactory view that its superior entrenchment is a mere linguistic accident. I try to supplement Goodman’s solution with an explanation of this kind. I argue that “grue” is not entrenched be- cause past successful inductions involving “green” show that past projections that could have been made using what I call “grue-like” predicates—predicates which are like “grue” except that the times featuring in their definitions are past—would have been unsuccessful.

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Lubin, D. (2012). Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction. Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 61-63. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.21009.


[1] Carnap, R. (1947). On the application of inductive logic. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 8, 133-147. doi:10.2307/2102920
[2] Goodman, N. (1983). Fact, fiction and forecast (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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