, Volume 180, Issue 3, pp 419–442 | Cite as

On the distinction between Peirce’s abduction and Lipton’s Inference to the best explanation

  • Daniel G. Campos


I argue against the tendency in the philosophy of science literature to link abduction to the inference to the best explanation (IBE), and in particular, to claim that Peircean abduction is a conceptual predecessor to IBE. This is not to discount either abduction or IBE. Rather the purpose of this paper is to clarify the relation between Peircean abduction and IBE in accounting for ampliative inference in science. This paper aims at a proper classification—not justification—of types of scientific reasoning. In particular, I claim that Peircean abduction is an in-depth account of the process of generating explanatory hypotheses, while IBE, at least in Peter Lipton’s thorough treatment, is a more encompassing account of the processes both of generating and of evaluating scientific hypotheses. There is then a two-fold problem with the claim that abduction is IBE. On the one hand, it conflates abduction and induction, which are two distinct forms of logical inference, with two distinct aims, as shown by Charles S. Peirce; on the other hand it lacks a clear sense of the full scope of IBE as an account of scientific inference.


Hypothesis Abduction Inference to the best explanation Scientific reasoning Peirce 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brooklyn CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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