Abductive Reasoning in Philosophy, Phenomenology, and Beyond
Jack Alan Reynolds (Deakin University ), Ole Höffken

March 22, 2023, 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Department of Politics, Media, and Philosophy, La Trobe University

Room PW 217, Peribolos West Building
La Trobe University


Abductive inference (as opposed to deductive and inductive inference) is widely considered to be essential for everyday as well as more rigorous forms of reasoning, in practical as well as theoretical dimensions. Standardly characterized as 'inference to the best explanation', abduction has been argued to be central not only to science, but also to philosophy - if not explicitly, then implicitly (Williamson 2016). In line with this programmatic approach, we examine if and how abduction may serve as a framework for the integration of scientific with philosophical reasoning, and especially of 'naturalistic' third-person accounts with 'phenomenological' first-person methodologies and perspectives. Building on previous work (Höffken 2022, Reynolds 2022), we argue that the adequate understanding of abduction for this integrative application can be developed on the basis of Paul Thagard's model of 'coherence-based inference' (Thagard 1989, 1992, 2000). The resulting holistic and explanation-independent notion of abduction affords an adequate framework for the integration of scientific and philosophical reasoning, and especially phenomenological perspectives. It thereby helps to clarify work in contemporary empirically-minded phenomenology that invokes 'mutual constraints' between third-person and first-person perspectives, but is usually rather elusive about the nature of those constraints.

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