Minds and Machines

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 257–265

A Neurocomputational Approach to Abduction

  • Robert G. Burton

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008282804997

Cite this article as:
Burton, R.G. Minds and Machines (1999) 9: 257. doi:10.1023/A:1008282804997


Recent developments in the cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence suggest ways of answering the most serious challenge to Peirce's notion of abduction. Either there is no such logical process as abduction or, if abduction is a form of inference, it is essentially unconscious and therefore beyond rational control so that it lacks any normative significance. Peirce himself anticipates and attempts to answer this challenge. Peirce argues that abduction is both a source of creative insight and a form of logical inference subject to a degree of conscious control. In this paper I shall sketch a developing account of abduction that is suggested by the work of Paul Churchland, Paul Thagard, Chris Eliasmith, William Wimsatt, Owen Flanagan, and others. I shall argue that a credible account of abduction will require that we approach the phenomenon from both higher and lower levels as represented by these approaches.

Abductioncontrolneural networkperceptual judgmentprototypeprototype activationreductiontheory-ladennessvector completion

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Burton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA (E-mail