Visual abductive reasoning in archaeology

Philosophy of Science 63 (2):278-301 (1996)
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Biographical studies have shown that visual mental imagery plays a significant role in the conduct of scientific research, particularly in the generation of hypotheses. But the nature of visual mental imagery and its participation in abductive inference is not systematically understood. This paper discusses examples of visual abductive reasoning by archaeologists, analyzing them according to the visual information and the process of inference employed. This work supports the conclusion that visual abduction is useful to scientists under certain conditions and that it is amenable to detailed study.



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