, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 267-283

Abduction as a Logic and Methodology of Discovery: the Importance of Strategies

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There are various ``classical'' argumentsagainst abduction as a logic of discovery,especially that (1) abduction is too weak amode of inference to be of any use, and (2) inbasic formulation of abduction the hypothesisis already presupposed to be known, so it isnot the way hypotheses are discovered in thefirst place. In this paper I argue, bybringing forth the idea of strategies,that these counter-arguments are weaker thanmay appear. The concept of strategiessuggests, inter alia, that many inferentialmoves are taken into account at the same time.This is especially important in abductivereasoning, which is basically a very weak modeof inference. The importance of strategicthinking can already be seen in Charles S.Peirce's early treatments of the topic, and N.R.Hanson's later writings on abductionalthough they did not use the concept of``strategies.'' On the whole, I am arguing thatthe focus should be more on methodologicalprocesses, and not only on validityconsiderations, which have dominated thediscussion about abduction.