(2007). Abduction, Pragmatism and the Scientific Imagination

Arisbe, Peirce Related Papers (2007)
Peirce claims in his Lectures on Pragmatism [CP 5.196] that “If you carefully consider the question of pragmatism you will see that it is nothing else than the question of the logic of abduction;” and further “no effect of pragmatism which is consequent upon its effect on abduction can go to show that pragmatism is anything more than a doctrine concerning the logic of abduction.” Plausibly, there is, at best, a quasi-logic of abduction, which properly issues in our best means for the methodological evaluation and ordering of (yet untested) hypotheses or theories. There is always a range of explanatory innovations that may be proposed, from more conservative to less conservative; and it is important, in light of what Peirce has to say on the relation of abduction to pragmatism, that in ruling out “wild guessing,” attention be initially directed to more conservative proposals. Still conservatism, which we might understand in terms of Peircean continuity, is sometimes justly sacrificed for greater comprehension or overall simplicity of approach. This paper explores the relationships among Peircean abduction and pragmatism, the “theoretical virtues” approach to the evaluation of hypotheses, and contextual constraint on the scientific imagination.
Keywords Abduction  Peirce  Pragmatism
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