Those who wish to read Fred Seddon's reply to my response to his original review of my book are advised to locate a copy of the Fall 2007 edition of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and read it for themselves. I will not attempt to summarize it here. I merely wish to respond to one of Seddon's objections. As with his original review of my book, Seddon demonstrates a wanton blindness to the subtleties of my position vis-a-vis Rand and Objectivism. "[Nyquist] thinks Rand and the Objectivists limit logic to deductive logic," Seddon pontificates, "and the triumphantly claims that some modern sciences have proven that 'Most practical knowledge ... is based on generalizations drawn from experience,' that is, on induction." Seddon falls into just the sort of special pleading and word twisting that is more befitting an ambulance chasing lawyer than a philosopher. Instead of trying to understand my point, he only wishes to distort it for his own purposes, so he can evade facing up to the issues I raise. That is what he does with the phrase "generalizations drawn from experience," which he equates not merely with induction, but, by implication, with just the sort of induction advocated by Rand, Peikoff, and Kelley! Never mind that induction, except in a very loose sense of the word that surely would be opposed by Rand and Peikoff, has little to do with generalizations. Induction is a reasoning or inference from the particular to universal. The confusion arises because often the word general is used instead of universal, but it is a mistake to confound the terms general and generalization. The so-called problem of induction would not arise for a mere generalization, because no generalization can be refuted by a single observation. If I say that swans are generally white, that is very different from saying that all swans are white. The observation of a black or a purple swan won't refute the notion that swans are generally white, because generalizations are not universal. They allow for exceptions. But once you grant exceptions, you're no longer in the realm of inductive "logic." Can anyone imagine, for example, Rand or Peikoff advocating the view the laws of nature are only "generally" true, that, in other words, there exist exceptions to them? And so Seddon is merely conflating the term generalization with the term universal and thus basing his whole argument on an ambiguity of language.
Yet this is not the least of it. If Seddon had been attentive to the full context of the passage quoted, particularly what had been written earlier about unconscious knowledge, he should have understood that little if any reasoning takes place when people form the generalizations that make up what I called practical knowledge; that such generalizations are often made intuitively, without conscious direction, from the innermost reaches of the mind's unconscious database. This, in and of itself, makes the whole issue of induction irrelevant. Rand's reason, even when applied to the homely generalizations of everyday life, could be as inductivist as Seddon or anyone else pleases; that still would not allow Rand's empirically unsubstantiated claim that "Reason is man's only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge" to pass muster. If people can gain knowledge intuitively, without direct conscious thinking at all, then the Randian view that only "reason" leads to knowledge becomes unacceptable.
In the greater scheme of things, these technical arguments about the role of reason and "induction" in the Randian epistemology are of little relevance and are only brought up by Seddon to throw sand in our eyes. The real point at issue, which I have raised again and again and which Seddon sedulously evades, is the issue of evidence. Rand made any number of statements about matters of fact concerning human nature, human cognition, and social interaction. Many of these statements are highly controversial, such as man is a being of self-made soul or man's emotional and cognitive mechanisms are blank at birth. Yet Rand provided no evidence for these controversial statements of fact. None whatever! And neither does Seddon. There may be a very good reason for this. Perhaps the lack of evidence stems from the fact that these assertions are not true!