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* Abduction (english)



The logic of creative acts has been studied and clarified by Charles Peirce, who coined the term 'abduction'. He added it as a third kind of inference to the traditional logical patterns of induction and deduction. In induction, thought moves from a plurality of experienced cases to a rule. In deduction, it moves from a rule to a case at hand. In abduction, a hypothetical rule is generated from a single case. Peirce described this novel pattern as follows:

* The surprising fact C is observed
  • But if A were true, C would be a matter of course
  • Hence, there is reason to suspect that A is true
(Peirce, 1931-35; 5.189)

In Peirce’s formulation, 'A' stands for a hypothetical rule invented at the spur of the moment. To become viable as explanation and for making predictions, this new rule must then be tested in the course of further experience - a kind of induction in reverse. If it turns out to be false, other abductions have to be made, until one is found that fits the experiential facts. In principle, this is not unlike natural selection in the theory of evolution. The big question, then, is: how are such hypothetical rules invented?


Het woord abduction (ontvoering) is een bijzonder woord in de zoektocht of er meer is dan alleen maar inductie en deductie. Von Glasersfeld gebruikt dit bij het beschrijven van het begrip Learning paradox.


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