How Popper [Might Have] Solved the Problem of Induction 1

Alan Musgrave a1
a1 University of Otago


Popper famously claimed that he had solved the problem of induction, but few agree. This paper explains what Popper's solution was, and defends it. The problem is posed by Hume's argument that any evidence-transcending belief is unreasonable because (1) induction is invalid and (2) it is only reasonable to believe what you can justify. Popper avoids Hume's shocking conclusion by rejecting (2), while accepting (1). The most common objection is that Popper must smuggle in induction somewhere. But this objection smuggles in precisely the justificationist assumption (2) that Popper, as here undestood, rejects.


1 Invited address at the Karl Popper 2002 Centenary Conference, Vienna, 3–7 July 2002.