Patterns of abduction

Synthese 164 (2):201-234 (2008)
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This article describes abductions as special patterns of inference to the best explanation whose structure determines a particularly promising abductive conjecture and thus serves as an abductive search strategy. A classification of different patterns of abduction is provided which intends to be as complete as possible. An important distinction is that between selective abductions, which choose an optimal candidate from given multitude of possible explanations, and creative abductions, which introduce new theoretical models or concepts. While selective abduction has dominated the literature, creative abductions are rarely discussed, although they are essential in science. The article introduces several kinds of creative abductions, such as theoretical model abduction, common cause abduction and statistical factor analysis, and illustrates them by various real case examples. It is suggested to demarcate scientifically fruitful abductions from purely speculative abductions by the criterion of causal unification



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Gerhard Schurz
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Criticism and the growth of knowledge.Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) - 1970 - Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press.

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