The status of abduction is still controversial. When dealing with abductive reasoning, misinterpretations and equivocations are common. What did Peirce mean when he considered abduction both a kind of inference and a kind of instinct or when he considered perception a kind of abduction? Does abduction involve only the generation of hypotheses or their evaluation too? Are the criteria for the best explanation in abductive reasoning epistemic, or pragmatic, or both? Does abduction preserve ignorance, extend truth or both? To study some of these conundrums and to better understand the concept of abduction, which Hintikka [20] classified the “fundamental problem of contemporary epistemology”, I think that an interdisciplinary effort is needed, at the same time fecundated by a wide philosophical analysis. To this aim I will take advantage of some reflections upon Peirce’s philosophy of abduction that I consider central to highlight the complexity of the concept, too often seen in the partial perspective of limited (even if tremendously epistemologically useful) formal and computational models. I will ponder over some seminal Peircean philosophical considerations concerning the entanglement of abduction, perception, inference, and instinct, which I consider are still important to current cognitive research. Peircean analysis helps us to better grasp how model-based, sentential and manipulative aspects of abduction—I have introduced in my book Abductive Cognition [38]—have to be seen as intertwined, and indispensable for building an acceptable integrated model of abduction. Even if speculative, Peircean philosophical results on abduction certainly anticipate various tenets of recent cognitive research, as I will remark.


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Magnani, Lorenzo (Author)
Magnani, Lorenzo (Editor)



978-3-642-37427-2 978-3-642-37428-9

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