Principle of the uniformity of nature

A claim that may be offered as a grounding for the INDUCTIVE PRINCIPLE, though it is not always distinguished from the principle itself.

It may be crudely formulated as ‘Nature is uniform’, or ‘The future will resemble the past’, or – in a more refined version like that given under inductive principle – with ‘will be found’ for ‘can be assumed’.

The main problem is to specify the respects in which the resemblance holds, since the future will obviously not resemble the past in all respects, whereas it can be shown that whatever happens (bar perhaps the total annihilation of the universe) the future will resemble the past in some respects (indeed in infinitely many).

Even the more refined versions are not immune to this danger, if the class and the property concerned are left quite unrestricted.

A more hopeful version of the principle may say that mere position in space or time cannot by themselves be relevant to whether some phenomenon occurs or not.

Also see: inductivism

N Goodman, ‘Seven Strictures on Similarity’, Experience and Theory, L Foster and J W Swanson, eds (1970)

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