The a priority of abduction

Philosophical Studies 174 (3):735-758 (2017)
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Abstract

Here we challenge the orthodoxy according to which abduction is an a posteriori mode of inference. We start by providing a case study illustrating how abduction can justify a philosophical claim not justifiable by empirical evidence alone. While many grant abduction's epistemic value, nearly all assume that abductive justification is a posteriori, on grounds that our belief in abduction's epistemic value depends on empirical evidence about how the world contingently is. Contra this assumption, we argue, first, that our belief in abduction’s epistemic value is not and could not be justified a posteriori, and second, that attention to the roles experience plays in abductive justification supports taking abduction to be an a priori mode of inference. We close by highlighting how our strategy for establishing the a priority of abduction positively contrasts with strategies in Bonjour (1998), Swinburne (2001), and Peacocke (2004) aiming to establish the a priority of certain ampliative modes of inference or abductive principles.

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Author Profiles

Stephen Biggs
Iowa State University
Jessica M. Wilson
University of Toronto at Scarborough

References found in this work

The Meaning of 'Meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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