- Guessing and Abduction
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 50, Number 1, Winter 2014
- pp. 115-138
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Despite the great importance placed upon the operation of abduction as an inferential process, few studies have been devoted specifically to the process of guessing as a piece of the abduction puzzle. This is surprising since Charles Peirce indicated that guessing is a fundamental part of the abductive process. Most literature concerning Peirce’s conception of abduction mentions guessing only in passing; what guessing actually is, especially with regard to the abductive process, is left vague at best, and this leaves a blind spot in the literature so that the broader conception of abduction remains unclear. In response to this, I explain the role of guessing in Peirce’s concept of abduction, placing the operation of guessing within the wider scope of the process of inquiry. I consider the guessing process as a deliberate and creative part of abduction, as well as alternative claims that have led to neglect of guessing as a creative operation. This analysis includes consideration of ethical, esthetic, and economic aspects of the guessing process as described by Peirce. As a specific example to elucidate how guessing functions within a particular scientific do¬main, I utilize the index case of AIDS. My argument sets the stage for further work to be done concerning the function of guessing as it pertains to scientific inquiry more generally.