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“Theoric Transformations” and a New Classification of Abductive Inferences
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society (2010)
  • Michael H.G. Hoffmann, Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus
Based on a definition of “abductive insight” and a critical discussion of G. Schurz’s (2008) distinction of eleven “patterns of abduction” that he organizes in four groups, I suggest an even more comprehensive classification that distinguishes 15 forms in an alternative structure. These forms are organized, on the one hand, with regard to what is abductively inferred—singular facts; types; laws; theoretical models; or representation systems—and, on the other, with regard to the question whether the abductive procedure is selective or creative (including a distinction between “psychologically creative,” as in school learning, or “historically creative”). Moreover, I argue that theoretical-model abduction—which seems to be the most important form of abduction—depends on two preconditions: first on the availability of an adequate system of representation, and second on finding a new “perspective” on a given problem, as Peirce described it with the notion of a “theoric transformation.” To understand the significance of theoric transformations—especially in mathematics—it is necessary to analyze in some detail Peirce’s main example for a theoric transformation: the proof of Desargues’s theorem.
  • abduction,
  • abductive insight,
  • theoric transformation,
  • Peirce,
  • Desargues's theorem
Publication Date
Citation Information
Michael H.G. Hoffmann. "“Theoric Transformations” and a New Classification of Abductive Inferences" Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society Vol. forthcoming (2010)
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