Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 330)


The general purpose of this chapter is to provide a critical analysis on the controversial enterprise of ‘logics of discovery’. It is naturally divided into six parts. After this introduction, in the second part (section 2) we briefly review the original heuristic methods, namely analysis and synthesis, as conceived in ancient Greece. In the third part (section 3) we tackle the general question of whether there is a logic of discovery. We start by analyzing the twofold division between the contexts of discovery and justification, showing that it may be not only further divided, but also its boundaries may not be so sharply distinguished. We then provide a background history (from antiquity to the XIXth century), divided into three periods in time, each of which is characterized by an epistemological stance (infallibilism or fallibilism) and by the types of logic worked out (generational, justificatory inductive logics, non-generational and self-corrective logics). Finally, we motivate the division of this general question into other three questions, namely one of purpose, one of pursuit and one of achievement, for in general, there is a clear gap between the search and the findings in the question of a logic of discovery. In the fourth part (section 4), we confront two foremost views on the logic of discovery, namely those of Karl Popper and Herbert Simon, and show that despite appearances, their approaches are close together in several respects. They both hold a fallibilist stance in regard to the well-foundedness of knowledge and view science as a dynamic activity of problem solving in which the growth of knowledge is the main aspect to characterize. We claim that both accounts fall under the study of discovery –when a broad view is endorsed– and the convergence of these two approaches is found in that neither Simon’s view really accounts for the epistemics of creativity at large, nor Popper neglects its study entirely. In the fifth part (section 5), we advance the claim that logic should have a place in the methodology of science, on a pair with historical and computational stances, something that naturally gives place to logical approaches to the logic of discovery, to be cherish in a normative account of the methodology of science. However, we claim that the label ‘logics of discovery’ should be replaced by ‘logics of generation and evaluation’, for on the one hand ‘discovery’ turns out to be a misleading term for the processes of generation of new knowledge and on the other hand, a logic of generation can only be conceived together with an account of processes for evaluation and justification. In the final part of this chapter (section 6), we sum up our previous discussion and advance our general conclusions.


Normative Theory Broad View Inductive Logic Heuristic Strategy XIXth Century 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Autonomous University of MexicoMexico

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