What Can Armstrongian Universals Do for Induction?

William PEDEN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


David Armstrong (1983) argues that necessitation relations among universals are the best explanation of some of our observations. If we consequently accept them into our ontologies, then we can justify induction, because these necessitation relations also have implications for the unobserved. By embracing Armstrongian universals, we can vindicate some of our strongest epistemological intuitions and answer the Problem of Induction. However, Armstrong’s reasoning has recently been challenged on a variety of grounds. Critics argue against both Armstrong’s usage of inference to the best explanation and even whether, by Armstrong’s own standards, necessitation relations offer a potential explanation of this explanandum, let alone the best explanation. I defend Armstrong against these particular criticisms. Firstly, even though there are reasons to think that Armstrong’s justification fails as a self-contained defence of induction, it can usefully complement several other answers to Hume. Secondly, I argue that Armstrong’s reasoning is consistent with his own standards for explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1161
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Issue number3
Early online date7 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • David Armstrong
  • Humeanism
  • Hume’s problem of induction
  • Induction
  • Laws of nature
  • Necessitarianism
  • Universals


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