Hansonian and Harmanian abduction as models of discovery

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):93 – 108 (2006)
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Abstract

In this article, I compare two varieties of abduction as reconstructive models for analysing discovery. The first is 'Hansonian abduction', which is based on N. R. Hanson's formulations of abduction. The other is 'Harmanian abduction', the Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) model, formulated especially by Gilbert Harman. Peter Lipton has analysed processes of discovery on the basis of his developed form of Harmanian abduction. I argue that Hansonian abduction would, however, be a more apt model for this purpose. As an example, I reconstruct, in a Hansonian manner, Ignaz Semmelweis's research on childbed fever and compare it to the IBE reconstruction of Lipton. I argue that Hansonian abduction is in accordance with Lipton's aim of taking into account the distinction between actual and potential explanations on the one hand, and between likely and lovely explanations on the other. I maintain that a developed version of Hansonian abduction combined with loveliness gives an important, new conceptual means for analysing processes of discovery.

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References found in this work

Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Patterns of discovery.Norwood Russell Hanson - 1958 - Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge.
Philosophy of natural science.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1966 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,: Prentice-Hall.

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