Abduction or the Logic of Surprise

Semiotica 2005 (153 - 1/4):117-130 (2005)
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Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914) made relevant contributions to deductive logic, but he was primarily interested in the logic of science, and more especially in what he called 'abduction' (as opposed to deduction and induction), which is the process whereby hypotheses are generated in order to explain the surprising facts. Indeed, Peirce considered abduction to be at the heart not only of scientific research, but of all ordinary human activities. Nevertheless, in spite of Peirce's work and writings in the field of methodology of research, scarce attention has been paid to the logic of discovery over the last hundred years, despite an impressive development not only of scientific research but also of logic. Having this in mind, the exposition is divided into five parts: 1) a brief presentation of Peirce, focusing on his work as a professional scientist; 2) an exposition of the classification of inferences by the young Peirce: deduction, induction and hypothesis; 3) a sketch of the notion of abduction in the mature Peirce; 4) an exposition of the logic of surprise; and finally, by way of conclusion, 5) a discussion of this peculiar ability of guessing understood as a rational instinct.
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