A defence of Van Fraassen's critique of abductive inference: Reply to Psillos

Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):305-321 (1997)
Abstract
Psillos has recently argued that van Fraassen’s arguments against abduction fail. Moreover, he claimed that, if successful, these arguments would equally undermine van Fraassen’s own constructive empiricism, for, Psillos thinks, it is only by appeal to abduction that constructive empiricism can be saved from issuing in a bald scepticism. We show that Psillos’ criticisms are misguided, and that they are mostly based on misinterpretations of van Fraassen’s arguments. Furthermore, we argue that Psillos’ arguments for his claim that constructive empiricism itself needs abduction point up to his failure to recognize the importance of van Fraassen’s broader epistemology for constructive empiricism. Towards the end of our paper we discuss the suspected relationship between constructive empiricism and scepticism in the light of this broader epistemology, and from a somewhat more general perspective
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