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Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

Fact, Fiction, and Forecast

Fourth Edition

Nelson Goodman

ISBN 9780674290716

Publication date: 03/07/1983

Here, in a new edition, is Nelson Goodman’s provocative philosophical classic—a book that, according to Science, “raised a storm of controversy” when it was first published in 1954, and one that remains on the front lines of philosophical debate.

How is it that we feel confident in generalizing from experience in some ways but not in others? How are generalizations that are warranted to be distinguished from those that are not? Goodman shows that these questions resist formal solution and his demonstration has been taken by nativists like Chomsky and Fodor as proof that neither scientific induction nor ordinary learning can proceed without an a priori, or innate, ordering of hypotheses.

In his new foreword to this edition, Hilary Putnam forcefully rejects these nativist claims. The controversy surrounding these unsolved problems is as relevant to the psychology of cognitive development as it is to the philosophy of science. No serious student of either discipline can afford to misunderstand Goodman’s classic argument.


  • Quite possibly the best book by a philosopher in the last twenty years. It changed, probably permanently, the way we think about the problem of induction, and hence about a constellation of related problems like learning and the nature of rational decision. This is the work of contemporary philosophy that I would most like to have written.

    —J. A. Fodor


  • Nelson Goodman is Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Harvard University.
  • Hilary Putnam was Cogan University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 160 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 7-15/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Foreword by Hilary Putnam

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