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Author Topic:   Abductive Reasoning In Science
PaulK
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Posts: 12563
Joined: 01-10-2003
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Message 16 of 120 (672315)
09-06-2012 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Modulous
09-06-2012 1:16 PM


I think that "rational" would be better than "logical" in this context. The limits of pure deductive logic are well known, by the way. That's why science is an empirical enterprise.
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nwr
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From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.9


Message 17 of 120 (672316)
09-06-2012 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by crashfrog
09-06-2012 12:36 PM


It's clear simply from the description that abduction is logically fallacious.

Correct.

But it's clear from history and the existence of technology that scientific abduction produces useful, accurate information about the natural world.

No, that is not at all clear. I believe it to be false.

What is clear, is that scientific methods that have produced useful accurate information will said by some to have arisen via abduction.


Jesus was a liberal hippie

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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 18 of 120 (672317)
09-06-2012 1:38 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Modulous
09-06-2012 1:16 PM


Abduction is logical, it is one of the modes of logical reasoning (ie., deductive, inductive and abductive). It is not deductively valid.

I grant that it is a mode of reasoning, but I'm not seeing how it's a mode of logical reasoning. By definition, the process of abduction is committing the formal fallacy of ad hoc, ergo propter hoc.

How can a valid mode of logical reasoning be a fallacy? By "logical" do you just mean "rational"? What I mean by "logical" is "valid within formal logic."


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 120 (672318)
09-06-2012 1:38 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by nwr
09-06-2012 1:37 PM


No, that is not at all clear. I believe it to be false.
What is clear, is that scientific methods that have produced useful accurate information will said by some to have arisen via abduction.

I'm not prepared to have that discussion with you.


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Modulous
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From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
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(1)
Message 20 of 120 (672319)
09-06-2012 2:11 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by crashfrog
09-06-2012 1:38 PM


By "logical" do you just mean "rational"? What I mean by "logical" is "valid within formal logic."

Wiki on logic:

quote:
Logic (from the Greek λογική logikē)[1] refers to both the study of modes of reasoning (which are valid and which are fallacious)[2] and the use of valid reasoning.

...

Logic is often divided into three parts, inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning.


From wiki on Abductive reasoning:

quote:
Abduction[1] is a form of logical inference that goes from data description of something to a hypothesis that accounts for the reliable data and seeks to explain relevant evidence.

That's what I mean when I say 'Abduction is logical'.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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Blue Jay
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Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 21 of 120 (672321)
09-06-2012 3:33 PM


Abductive vs Inductive
I'm not sure I quite understand the distinction between inductive reasoning and abductive reasoning. From what I've read here, it sounds like abductive reasoning is sort of a special case of inductive reasoning.

I've understood inductive reasoning to be like this:

All crows I have seen are black
Therefore, all crows are black

And, from what I've understood here about abductive reasoning, it's similar, except that you also propose an explanation for why all crows are black.

So, you're not just extrapolating from a pattern, but you're actually trying to explain the pattern you've seen.

Am I understanding it correctly?


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Panda
Member (Idle past 1093 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


(2)
Message 22 of 120 (672323)
09-06-2012 3:59 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Blue Jay
09-06-2012 3:33 PM


Re: Abductive vs Inductive
Blue Jay writes:

Am I understanding it correctly?


That is also (from what I have read) how I understand it to work.

If I oversleep and go downstairs and see a cereal bowl in the sink then I can assume that my girlfriend has had breakfast.
I can do this because I have seen her eat breakfast from that type of bowl and seen her put the bowl in the sink.

Certainly, as with inductive reasoning, I could be wrong: a kidnapper might have taken my GF and had breakfast before leaving (and with some weird social conscience, put the bowl in the sink).
But that is very unlikely.

To think it was a kidnapper I would need to find signs that a kidnapper had been there.
But, until there is evidence of a kidnapper, I could be confident of my initial conclusion that my GF had eaten breakfast.

It is a difference in temporal direction.
Inductive reasoning 'predicts' the future based on a pattern we have seen.
Abductive reasoning 'predicts' the past based on a pattern we have seen.


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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Straggler
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Posts: 10192
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 23 of 120 (672324)
09-06-2012 4:03 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by crashfrog
09-06-2012 12:36 PM


Crash writes:

I'd like to get at what you mean by "valid." Logically valid?

In this thread I don't think it is for me to stipulate what is "valid" and what is not. There are those who might suggest that science is not a "valid" pursuit because it relies on methods and principles that are not deductively sound.

I would not agree with those people. But I would be interested to hear from them.

You seem to be suggesting that science isn't logically valid and that logic isn't scientifically valid. If that is the case I would suggest you are using too narrow-a-definition of what is "logically valid". But the point of this thread is to discus such issues in relation to abductive reasoning rather than for me to define "validity" from the beginning.


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Straggler
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Posts: 10192
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 24 of 120 (672325)
09-06-2012 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Blue Jay
09-06-2012 3:33 PM


Re: Abductive vs Inductive
BluJ writes:

So, you're not just extrapolating from a pattern, but you're actually trying to explain the pattern you've seen.

Based on a body of evidence and the predictive power of the theory in question having been previously verified we legitimately conclude that another example which fits said theory and it's predictions is explained by said theory.

The new data fits the pattern established by the theory so the theory is abductively concluded to apply to the new data.

Or something like that.....


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Dr Jack
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Posts: 3500
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 25 of 120 (672326)
09-06-2012 6:42 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
09-04-2012 1:33 PM


1) How widely is abductive reasoning used in science?
2) Is abductive reasoning a valid tool for science to use in formulating theories?
3) What are some key examples of abductive reasoning relevant to the sort of science topics regularly covered at EvC (Evolution, Big Bang, Age of earth etc. etc. etc.)?
4) Can we 'do science' without abductive reasoning? Or is it a vital component of the scientific method?

Abductive reasoning, as described, is the hypothetico-deductive method's retarded little brother. Science doesn't use the abductive method save in hypothesis construction. What it does it kick it up a notch and predict the consequences. If I predict that result B will follow from action A and then it does then I have powerful evidence for my theory C that predicted B->A before I test it but terribly weak evidence for newly formulated theory D that also claims B->A.


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 26 of 120 (672327)
09-06-2012 10:45 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Straggler
09-06-2012 4:03 PM


You seem to be suggesting that science isn't logically valid and that logic isn't scientifically valid.

If I can avoid a "what do words mean" type of conversation by saying so, then let me try to clarify - I guess what I'm saying is that it's difficult to reconcile formal logic with empiricism or abduction. Or, for that matter, induction. Many philosophers of science have construed this as a problem with empiricism and abduction - Hume's inductive fallacy, for instance. Other philosophers, for instance the apparent authors of the Wikipedia article on abduction, expand the scope of logic to envelop modes of reasoning beyond the formal deductive.

I choose to construe the issue as being a problem with logic, one that largely relegates logic to the status of an amusing parlor game as opposed to a useful tool for grappling with the world.

If that is the case I would suggest you are using too narrow-a-definition of what is "logically valid".

That may be, because I like to keep "valid" distinct from "true." A proposition in logic is valid when it descends from premises by means of logical transformations that preserve truth values. A proposition in logic is true when it descends validly from premises that are true. Most of the time. Of course, per Godel, under some circumstances a proposition can be valid but not true.

I guess what I'm getting at is, I'm much less interested in whether abductive reasoning is logically valid, since it is useful and true, which is more important.


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 78 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 27 of 120 (672328)
09-06-2012 10:51 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Straggler
09-06-2012 4:08 PM


Re: Abductive vs Inductive
Hi, Straggler.

Strag writes:

Based on a body of evidence and the predictive power of the theory in question having been previously verified we legitimately conclude that another example which fits said theory and it's predictions is explained by said theory.

The new data fits the pattern established by the theory so the theory is abductively concluded to apply to the new data.

You mean, like this:

Black feathers help blackbirds hide in the dark.
Crows have black feathers.
Black feathers help crows hide in the dark
?

Your OP quote says abduction is equivalent to "affirming the consequent," but the above sounds more like "argument from analogy." It sounds to me like abduction is just the action of proposing a hypothesis for a set of observations.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15753
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 28 of 120 (672329)
09-06-2012 11:21 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Straggler
09-06-2012 12:22 PM


A common creationist confusion along these lines pertains to dating, the geologic column and fossils. The creationist misunderstanding/complaint is based on thinking that fossils are dated by their position in the geologic column whilst the layers of the geologic column are dated by means of which fossils they contain.

I think that's a different mistake. I don't know if there's a formal name for it, so I hereby christen it "being a fucking halfwit".


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15753
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


(1)
Message 29 of 120 (672330)
09-06-2012 11:26 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by crashfrog
09-06-2012 12:36 PM


I would go so far to suggest that if scientific abduction is illogical, that exposes a problem with logic, not with scientific abduction.

Actually, neither. Saying that this is "a problem with logic" is like saying that there's a problem with bicycles because they don't keep the rain off your head. But it is not really a "problem with bicycles" that they're not umbrellas. Logic does exactly what it is purported to do. It's not a problem with it that it doesn't do other things. A bicycle is not a defective umbrella, and logic is not a defective form of the scientific method.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15753
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 30 of 120 (672331)
09-06-2012 11:31 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by crashfrog
09-06-2012 1:38 PM


I grant that it is a mode of reasoning, but I'm not seeing how it's a mode of logical reasoning. By definition, the process of abduction is committing the formal fallacy of ad hoc, ergo propter hoc.

That's what wikipedia says, but it is at variance with their definition of abduction.


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