Monday, April 20, 2009

[inference] deduction, induction and abduction

From the International Encyclopaedia of Communication:

Deduction, induction, and abduction are three basic forms of inference that inform the methodologies of communication research as well as other fields and disciplines.

Whereas the most familiar forms are inference from a general principle or law to individual instances (deduction), or from several instances to a law (induction), abduction is an equally important constituent of scholarship, serving to identify possible explanations for a set of observations.

Different traditions of communication research can be seen to rely on distinctive variants and combinations of deduction, induction, and abduction.

Aristotle had identified abduction as a type of inference; it was reintroduced in modern philosophy by Charles Sanders Peirce in an 1878 article.

Wiki defines abduction thus:

Abduction, or inference to the best explanation, is a method of reasoning in which one chooses the hypothesis that would, if true, best explain the relevant evidence.

Abductive reasoning starts from a set of accepted facts and infers their most likely, or best, explanations.

The term abduction is also sometimes used to just mean the generation of hypotheses to explain observations or conclusions, but the former definition is more common both in philosophy and computing.

Just thought you’d like to know.


  1. Unless we are told the criterion for "best" in "best explain", we are at a loss to know what the hell they are talking about, are we not?

  2. @dearieme - you've put your finger on the difference between "conspiracy theorists" and others.

    "Conspiracy Theorists" choose their own "best" explanation; others have the explanation chosen for them.

  3. Is this a good question?

    Yes, if this is the best answer.


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