Peirce-suit of truth – why inference to the best explanation and abduction ought not to be confused

Erkenntnis 60 (1):75-105 (2004)
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Abstract

It is well known that the process of scientific inquiry, according to Peirce, is drivenby three types of inference, namely abduction, deduction, and induction. What isbehind these labels is, however, not so clear. In particular, the common identificationof abduction with Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) begs the question,since IBE appears to be covered by Peirce's concept of induction, not that of abduction.Consequently, abduction ought to be distinguished from IBE, at least on Peirce's account. The main aim of the paper, however, is to show that this distinction is most relevant with respect to current problems in philosophy of science and epistemology (like attempts to supply suitable notions of realism and truth as well as related concepts like coherence and unification). In particular, I also try to show that (and in what way) Peirce's inferential triad can function as a method that ensures both coherence and correspondence. It is in this respect that his careful distinction between abduction and induction (or IBE) ought to be heeded.

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