Problems with Peirce's concept of abduction

Foundations of Science 4 (3):271-305 (1999)
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Abstract

Abductive reasoning takes place in forming``hypotheses'''' in order to explain ``facts.'''' Thus, theconcept of abduction promises an understanding ofcreativity in science and learning. It raises,however, also a lot of problems. Some of them will bediscussed in this paper. After analyzing thedifference between induction and abduction (1), Ishall discuss Peirce''s claim that there is a ``logic''''of abduction (2). The thesis is that this claim can beunderstood, if we make a clear distinction between inferential elements and perceptive elements of abductive reasoning. For Peirce, the creative act offorming explanatory hypotheses and the emergence of``new ideas'''' belongs exclusively to the perceptive side of abduction. Thus, it is necessary to study the roleof perception in abductive reasoning (3). A furtherproblem is the question whether there is arelationship between abduction and Peirce''s concept of``theorematic reasoning'''' in mathematics (4). Both forms of reasoning could be connected, because both arebased on perception. The last problem concerns therole of instincts in explaining the success ofabductive reasoning in science, and the question whether the concept of instinct might be replaced bymethods of inquiry (5).

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Michael H. G. Hoffmann
Georgia Institute of Technology

References found in this work

Natural Kinds.W. V. O. Quine - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 234-248.
Peirce’s Theory of Abduction.K. T. Fann - 1970 - The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Peirce's Theory of Abduction.K. T. Fann - 1972 - Philosophy 47 (182):377-379.

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