, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 263-269
Date: 27 Dec 2011

Lorenzo Magnani: Abductive Cognition: The Epistemological and Eco-Cognitive Dimensions of Hypothetical Reasoning

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The study of abduction has come a long way over the last few decades. A generation ago, the term abduction might evoke the following thoughts:

  1. It is an argument in the form of the fallacy of affirming the consequent, and

  2. It concerns the logic, if any, of hypothesis generation in science.

Today, abduction evokes a broad and interdisciplinary study of a complex phenomenon, in which hypotheses play a central role. Magnani’s book is an ambitious and ecumenical essay on that phenomenon, an attempt to collect and integrate research, old and new, regarding abductive thinking. The author summarizes its aims succinctly:

My aim is to combine philosophical, logical, cognitive, eco-cognitive, neurological, and computational issues, while also discussing some cases of reasoning in everyday settings, in expert inferences, and in science. The main thesis is that abduction is a basic kind of human cognition, not only helpful in delineating the first principles of a new theory of science, but also ex