Whether abduction is treated as an argument or as an inference, the mainstream view presupposes a tight connection between abduction and inference to the best explanation (IBE). This paper critically evaluates this link and supports a narrower view on abduction. Our main thesis is that merely the hypothesis-generative aspect, but not the evaluative aspect, is properly abductive in the sense introduced by C. S. Peirce. We show why equating abduction with IBE (or understanding them as inseparable parts) unnecessarily complicates argument evaluation by levelling the status of abduction as a third reasoning mode (besides deduction and induction). We also propose a scheme for abductive argument along with critical questions, and suggest retaining abduction alongside IBE as related but distinct categories.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Abductive argument
- Critical questions
- Inference to the best explanation