Abstract

The term “abduction” has been used with different meanings since its introduction in C. S. Peirce’s writings. It has been used to refer to inference to the best explanation, hypothetical inference, inference to new explanations, and a guessing-instinct. These meanings converge to solve a central problem: how do new ideas emerge in inquiry? Different authors defend different meanings of “abduction” which, in their view, resolve this fundamental problem. This article seeks to displace the central question of abduction in order to account more coherently for its different meanings in Peirce’s thought. It is argued that abduction is not concerned with the emergence of new ideas in reasoning but instead with how ideas are made to fulfill their logical purpose. Since the logical goodness of abduction is most directly treated in Peirce’s 1903 Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, this article first examines the link between abduction, pragmatism, and logical goodness in those lectures. This initial examination leads us to displace the central question of abduction, from “how do new ideas emerge?” to “how do ideas fulfill their logical purpose?”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9587
Print ISSN
0009-1774
Pages
pp. 157-177
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-18
Open Access
No
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