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Abduction

If abductive reasoning is about "inference to the best explanation" isn't that similar to the Popperian approach, which tries to find good explanations?

No, because:

abduction justifies the conclusion of the inference being the best explanation based on the process used to reach it (i.e., the conclusion is justified b/c it was reached using abduction rather than, say, guessing)

abduction, like induction, is supposed to offer a procedure for how to get from the input data to a conclusion, but actually doesn't.

critical rationalism (CR) doesn't need a procedure for how to create or pick explanations b/c it just says: guess them however you want, and if your method is dumb it doesn't really matter (but feel free to criticize your method and try to improve it).

The reason it doesn't matter to CR where ideas come from is CR doesn't try to justify ideas by having them come from an authoritative process. Instead, CR tries to improve ideas by *error elimination*. Although this does let us improve ideas, it never makes them authoritative or secure (or probably secure), as abduction aims to do.

Elliot Temple on August 3, 2009

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