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Mill's Radicalization of Induction

Mill's Radicalization of Induction

(p.95) Chapter Two Mill's Radicalization of Induction
Reforming Philosophy
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the reforms Mill proposed in science to counter the view of Whewell. It shows that his overriding desire was to expel the intuitionist philosophy from its “stronghold” in physical science and mathematics, because he saw this as being the crucial precondition for reforming moral and political philosophy. The intuitionist epistemology led to political and social conservatism, Mill believed, by reassuring people that what they believed deeply must be true and necessary. Indeed, intuitionism allowed “every inveterate belief and every intense feeling” to be “its own all-sufficient voucher and justification.” If he could demonstrate that knowledge of physical science and even mathematics did not require any a priori axioms, Mill hoped, then he would have proved the superfluity of a priori elements in morality and political philosophy. It is because of this that Mill developed an ultra-empiricist, phenomenalist epistemology, and rejected necessity in mathematics and causal relations. He thus “radicalized” induction. The chapter also discusses Mill's “final and most elaborate protest against the Intuitionist school,” his Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865).

Keywords:   intuitionist philosophy, physical science, social conservatism, John Stuart Mill, causal relations, induction

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