The Nature of Generalizations

In the English edition, generalizations were sometimes described in a way that was too narrow. In essence, generalizations refer to the nature of a class of entities or their corresponding mode of action. The latter type of generalization states a causal connection, but the former merely states the nature of the thing (which explains its action under any particular circumstances). The book is about inductive generalizations, not merely those that explicitly state a causal relationship. I make this clear in the Spanish edition. For example, on page 21 of the English edition, I have replaced paragraphs 2 and 3 with the following:

“Generalizations — both first-level and higher — are universal statements about a class of entities, identifying their attributes or their corresponding mode of action. All assert that the members of a class of entities have attributes that make them a certain kind of thing — or they assert that this kind of thing necessarily acts in a certain way under a given set of circumstances, which is the essence of the law of causality. This is true on all levels of development, from “Balls are spherical” to “Chemical elements are composed of identical atoms”; or from “Pushing a ball makes it roll” to “A net force exerted on a body causes it to accelerate in accordance with the law F = mA.”

“Aside from attributes that we grasp by direct perception, the nature of entities is discovered by studying their actions. The only justification for inferring the future from actions of the past is the fact that the past actions occurred not arbitrarily or miraculously, but for a reason, a reason inherent in the nature of the acting entities themselves; i.e., the justification is that the past actions were effects of causes — and thus if the same cause is operative tomorrow, it will result in the same effect. We unite an entity with its actions by means of grasping causal connections.”