Foundations, Applications & Theory of Inductive Logic (FAT IL)

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Foundations, Applications & Theory of Inductive Logic (FAT IL)
(DFG Scientific Networks Grant)

While “our ancestors did not escape the saber-tooths by thrashing them at roulette” [Strevens, 2013], our ability to reason under uncertainty is clearly one of the causes of the continued dominance of the human species on earth. Inductive logic, the topic of this project, aims to describe, predict, understand, automate and improve our faculties for uncertain inference. Today, uncertain inference permeates our daily lives, politics, (business) decision making, the natural sciences (including probability theory and statistics) and large areas of analytic philosophy.

Modern-era inductive logic was funded and popularised by Rudolf Carnap. Despite the impressive progress made by Carnap and his co-workers, the research programme of inductive logic never gained traction in philosophy, logic, mathematics nor in computer science. This is undoubtedly, at least partially, due to a number of influential criticisms levelled at inductive logic, in particular, threatened to sink Carnap’s approach at an early stage. Carnap’s replies notwithstanding, inductive logicians have been facing an uphill battle from that point on.

Inductive logicians today take Goodman to point out that, first, violations of the Principle of Total Evidence will bring about counter-intuitive results; and second, that inductive inference depends on the underlying language. Rather than being threatened by this, we take this to be an opportunity for exciting research aiming at formalising ever larger parts of the available evidence and investigating the (in-)dependence of inductive inference with respect to the underlying formal framework.

Today, small but dedicated groups of philosophers, computer scientists and mathematicians are once again flying the inductive logic flag. Unfortunately, there is little close interaction between groups, which is a major obstacle in realising the prospects of inductive logic. Furthermore, inductive logic does not receive the appreciation by the wider communities it, in our views, deserves – possibly due to the lack of perceived cohesion among inductive logicians. This network hence aims to

  1. support and coordinate inductive logicians and
  2. draw attention to new exciting work on inductive logic.

This project is funded by a DFG Scientific Networks Grant: for details of the members of the network, please see the "Members" page. The funding will be used to support a series of four workshops and conferences. For details of these events, please see the "Events" link.

The network coordinator is Jürgen Landes (