Skip to main content Accessibility help

Meta-Induction and Social Epistemology: Computer Simulations of Prediction Games

  • Gerhard Schurz


The justification of induction is of central significance for cross-cultural social epistemology. Different ‘epistemological cultures’ do not only differ in their beliefs, but also in their belief-forming methods and evaluation standards. For an objective comparison of different methods and standards, one needs (meta-)induction over past successes. A notorious obstacle to the problem of justifying induction lies in the fact that the success of object-inductive prediction methods (i.e., methods applied at the level of events) can neither be shown to be universally reliable (Hume's insight) nor to be universally optimal. My proposal towards a solution of the problem of induction is meta-induction. The meta-inductivist applies the principle of induction to all competing prediction methods that are accessible to her. By means of mathematical analysis and computer simulations of prediction games I show that there exist meta-inductive prediction strategies whose success is universally optimal among all accessible prediction strategies, modulo a small short-run loss. The proposed justification of meta-induction is mathematically analytical. It implies, however, an a posteriori justification of object-induction based on the experiences in our world. In the final section I draw conclusions about the significance of meta-induction for the social spread of knowledge and the cultural evolution of cognition, and I relate my results to other simulation results which utilize meta-inductive learning mechanisms.



Hide All
Alexander, J. McKenzie. 2007. The Structural Evolution of Morality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cesa-Bianchi, Nicolo and Lugosi, Gabor. 2006. Prediction, Learning, and Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dawkins, Richard. 1989. The Selfish Gene. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gigerenzer, Gerd et al. 1999. Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart. New York: Oxford University Press.
Goldman, Alvin I. 1999. Knowledge in a Social World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Good, Irving J. 1983. Good Thinking. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Greeno, James G. 1971. “Evaluation of Statistical Hypotheses Using Information Transmitted.” In Salmon, W., Statistical Explanation and Statistical Relevance. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Hegselmann, Rainer. 2002. “Opinion Dynamics and Bounded Confidence Models, Analysis, and Simulation.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS) 5(3)
Hegselmann, Rainer and Krause, Ulrich. 2006. “Truth and Cognitive Division of Labour: First Steps towards a Computer Aided Social Epistemology.” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS) 9(3)
Hogarth, Robin M. and Karelaia, Natalia. 2006. “‘Take-The-Best’ and Other Simple Strategies.” Theory and Decision 61: 205–49.
Kelly, Kevin T. 1996. The Logic of Reliable Inquiry. New York: Oxford University Press.
Norton, John. 2003. “A Material Theory of Induction.” Philosophy of Science 70: 647–70.
Reichenbach, Hans. 1938. Experience and Prediction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Reichenbach, Hans. 1949. The Theory of Probability. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Salmon, Wesley C. 1957. “Should We Attempt to Justify Induction?Philosophical Studies 8(3): 45–7.
Schurz, Gerhard. 2008a. “Third-Person Internalism: A Critical Examination of Externalism and a Foundation-Oriented Alternative.” Acta Analytica 23: 928.
Schurz, Gerhard. 2008b. “The Meta-Inductivist's Winning Strategy in the Prediction Game: A New Approach to Hume's Problem.” Philosophy of Science 75: 278305.
Schurz, Gerhard. 2008c. “Meta-Induction. A Game-Theoretical Approach to the Problem of Induction.” In Glymour, C., Westerståhl, D., Wang, W. (eds.), Proceedings from the 13 th International Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy. London: King's College Publications.
Schurz, Gerhard. 2009. “Meliorative Reliabilist Epistemology: Where Externalism and Internalism Meet.” Grazer Philosophische Studien.
Skyrms, Brian. 2000. Choice and Chance. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Skyrms, Brian. 2004. The Stag Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Meta-Induction and Social Epistemology: Computer Simulations of Prediction Games

  • Gerhard Schurz


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed