Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Abductive Reasoning

  • Roger W. SchvaneveldtEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_889



Abductive reasoning consists in applying norms underlying the generation of hypotheses.

Theoretical Background

Logic and reasoning are usually thought of in the realm of deductive reasoning which is concerned with preserving truth. A valid deductive argument is one for which true premises guarantee a true conclusion. Aristotle’s syllogisms are familiar examples of such arguments. All A are B and C is an A lead to the conclusion that C is a B. All men are mortal and Socrates is a man requires that Socrates is mortal.

The hypothetico-deductive method provides a means of analyzing scientific reasoning. Given a hypothesis, predictions can be deduced from the hypothesis which is then tested by scientific experiments. However, as Karl Popper argued, the consequences of testing a hypothesis are quite different in the case of finding confirming as opposed to disconfirming evidence. Given a...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Durso, F. T., Rea, C. B., & Dayton, T. (1994). Graph-theoretic confirmation of restructuring during insight. Psychological Science, 5, 94–98.Google Scholar
  2. Hanson, N. R. (1958). Patterns of discovery: An inquiry into the conceptual foundations of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Harman, G. H. (1965). The inference to the best explanation. The Philosophical Review, 74, 88–95.Google Scholar
  4. Peirce, C. S. (1940). Abduction and induction. In J. Buchler (Ed.), Philosophical writings of Peirce. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Schvaneveldt, R. W., & Cohen, T. A. (2010). Abductive reasoning and similarity: Some computational tools. In D. Ifenthaler, P. Pirnay-Dummer, & N. M. Seel (Eds.), Computer based diagnostics and systematic analysis of knowledge. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Simon, H. A. (1973). Does scientific discovery have a logic? Philosophy of Science, 40, 471–480.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied PsychologyArizona State UniversityMesaUSA