Abduction

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Thus two further steps follow abduction in the process of scientific inquiry. The second step is deduction, and consists in drawing predictions which are necessary, or deductive, consequences from the hypothesis. For example, if the man is a priest, he should be tonsured:. This man is an ex-priest. Ex-priest are tonsured. Therefore, this man is tonsured.

The prediction that the man will be found to be tonsured, which is a sample of all the necessary consequences of the hypothesis, has now to be put to test by induction. He does so, and I find that he is indeed tonsured. Peirce can thus conclude that the man is an ex-priest on the basis of the induction that as this prediction is verified so must all the predictions drawn from the same hypothesis. In other words, the third step of inquiry is the inductive generalization that what is found true of a sample of the predictions will be found true of all of them.

They are severally used in the three logical stages of research. The hypothesis must be tested. Abduction is for the sake of verification. This is the kind of reasoning called reasoning from consequent to antecedent. The conclusion of abduction, which contains the hypothesis, is not in the indicative but in the interrogative mood: it advances the hypothesis not as true, nor as a mere idea, but as an idea worth investigating in order to determine its truth.

Abduction is not an isolated form of reasoning, but is embedded within the larger horizon of inquiry, because a hypothesis is first put forth by abduction, and then verified by induction through verification of its observable deductive consequences. As to his bit, it must be of gold twenty-three carats fine, for he had rubbed its bosses against a touchstone, the properties of which I had ascertained.

Lastly, I inferred from the marks that his shoes left upon stones of another kind, that he was shod with silver of eleven pennyweights in quality. Voltaire The fact that the dust upon the trees is rubbed off on both sides at a distance of three feet and half from the middle of the road is a sign a symptom that the horse has a tail of that length. The leaves fallen from the boughs are a sign a symptom that the animal is five feet tall.

The gold on the touchstone is a sign a clue that the horse has bosses of gold twenty-three carats. And finally, the silver on the pebbles is a sign a clue that the shoes of the horses are shod with silver of a certain quality. Collectively, these signs form an icon of a horse with certain characters.

The signs themselves are indices clues, symptoms, and imprints , but collectively they depict a horse, and are therefore the icon of a horse. According to the early Peirce, in abduction the premises are an icon of the conclusion. But Zadig does nothing in particular to put his hypothesis to test. The horse came this way and took the path to the right. He will not get far, because he will have to stop when he reaches the dungheap. He went to the right, as I said, but you should hurry, in any case.

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NR Neatly spaced, those marks said that the hoof was small and round, and the gallop quite regular — and so I deduced the nature of the horse, and the fact that it was not running wildly like a crazed animal. At the point where the pines formed a natural roof, some twigs had been freshly broken off at a height of five feet. The imprints suggest William that a horse had passed that way, and their orientation is a sign a clue that the horse was heading to the right.

The broken twigs are a sign a symptom that the animal is five feet tall. The color of the hairs that the horse left on the blackberry bushes is a sign a symptom that the horse is black. But unlike Zadig, for whom the interrogation of the official is the verification of the horse hypothesis, William is prepared to offer his Brunellus hypothesis before being addressed by the monks. The presence and the shape of the imprints, the hairs left on the bushes, and the broken twigs allow him to reconstruct some of the features of the horse.

But the description that he offers to the cellarer cannot be explained only in terms of what he has actually seen. As we noticed, from the observed, surprising fact that the cellarer in person is taking part in the chase William infers that the horse is thought to be the finest of the abbey.

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We could express this piece of abductive inference in the Harvard scheme:. I The surprising fact that the cellarer himself is taking part in the chase for the horse is observed.


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But if the horse that has escaped were considered to be the finest of the abbey, the cellarer himself would take part in the chase. Hence, there is reason to suspect that the horse is considered to be the finest of the abbey. What kind of inference is it and what is its logical form?

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Bondanella is right that II is not the kind of inference usually employed by detectives. But he is wrong that the inference in question is abductive. For one thing, some confusion is caused by a terminological distortion. As variously observed cf. But II , as we shall see, is not.


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Thus William states that the horse has a small head, large eyes, and pointed ears — not because he has found physical evidence to suggest that the horse has these qualities but because he invents a horse based on what he guesses the monks believe about it. DelFattore 8. I shall not be particularly concerned with the first three items of this typology, but I will discuss the fourth in the next section. Determining whether II is an abduction or not is a more basic problem than determining which kind of abduction it is.

Since the rule connects beauty and specific anatomical features, that which is explained by the rule should consequently be either that Brunellus is a fine horse in fact, the finest of the abbey , or that he has certain features. But this latter cannot be the fact that demands explanation, for it is not something that William could have observed.

Nor is in inferable from what he did observe. What he did observe is that the group includes the cellarer. From this, we have seen, he infers by I that the horse sought must be the finest of the abbey. This is the fact that falls under the rule. If we attempt to put II into a logical form, the result is the following:. II The monks believe that a fine horse must have a small head, sharp ears, and big eyes. The monks of the abbey believe that Brunellus is a fine horse.


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  6. Therefore, the monks believe that Brunellus has a small head, sharp ears, and big eyes. But the inference, so reconstructed, is deductive, not abductive of either kind. In a sense, he is. William is not merely deducing the consequences of an idea arrived at by means of abduction. He is deducing the consequences of that idea in order to put that idea to experimental test. Once the necessary consequences of the hypothesis are drawn, William — just like the Peircean scientist — has to make an experiment to verify that hypothesis.

    In so doing, William pretends to be performing an abductive reasoning from observed facts, while he is actually testing one of the hypotheses suggested by a previous abduction. It proves not that Brunellus really has a small head, sharp ears, and big eyes, but only that the monks so believe.

    Eco and Peirce on Abduction

    William may therefore be said to make the inductive generalization that what is found true of the predictions actually put to test by including in his description of Brunellus a sample of the characters available in the encyclopedia would be found true of all of them. Abduction is for the sake of inductive verification. This is true also of the first, observation-laden abductions that William makes on the basis of the signs found on the path.

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