Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


That we project the past onto our predictions of the future is a commonly accepted means of behavior prediction within folk psychology and everyday life. It is also a proposed method of behavior prediction given by Kristin Andrews in her piece, Do Apes Read Minds? By way of John Stuart Mill’s consideration of the dilemmas that arise from induction, supplementary pieces on induction and inference, and cognitive psychology as it pertains to memory perception, I will address:

1. Prediction from the past as it pertains to folk psychology, inductive reasoning and cognitive psychology.
2. Mill’s approach to David Hume’s problem of induction, and Nelson Goodman’s new riddle of induction.
3. Relevant studies within the field of cognitive psychology that pertain to memory perception.
4. The confusion between prediction from the past with prediction from the situation.

I argue that prediction from the past is really just conflation with prediction from the present -­‐-­‐ that is, as Andrews calls it, prediction from the situation. I will bring forth examples from cognitive psychology and the topic of memory perception in order to further explain the way in which our own memories predispose us in a way that leaves us unable to recall the past with certitude. There are indeed practical uses of inductive reasoning, but if our use of induction requires a proper recollection of past experiences, we really only have our present understanding of the past to make use of, which is why, as I argue, we predict from the present state of our memories rather than directly predicting from the past. To say that we are using induction, prediction from the past, would imply that we have perfect knowledge of the past when studies pertaining to memory perception seem to say otherwise.

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