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Charles Sanders Peirce The Functional Stages of Inquiry


Interpretation as Action: The Risk of Inquiry


By Jon Awbrey and Susan Awbrey
The first functional stage of inquiry is abduction, which involves "pondering these phenomena in all their aspects," allowing a conjecture to arise "that furnishes a possible Explanation," regarding the conjecture with "favor" and holding it to be "Plausible." Abduction is the "whole series of mental performances between the notice of the wonderful phenomenon and the acceptance of the hypothesis."
It is:
the dark laboring, the bursting out of the startling conjecture, the remarking of its smooth fitting to the anomaly, as it is turned back and forth like a key in a lock, and the final estimation of its Plausibility, … Its characteristic formula of reasoning I term Retroduction [abduction], i.e. reasoning from consequent to antecedent. (Peirce, CP 6.469).
Peirce's second stage of inquiry, deduction, is the testing of the hypothesis.
This testing, to be logically valid, must honestly start, not as Retroduction starts, with scrutiny of the phenomena, but with examination of the hypothesis, and a muster of all sorts of conditional experiential consequences which would follow from its truth. (Peirce, CP 6.470).
Finally, in the third stage, induction, the inquirer ascertains "how far those consequents accord with Experience, and of judging accordingly whether the hypothesis is sensibly correct." (Peirce, CP 6.472).
Peirce divides the stages of inquiry at different points than Dewey, relating them to three modes of inference that he calls abductive,deductive, and inductive reasoning.
(Abduction suffers a flight of fanciful names from hypothesis, through presumption and suggestion, toretroduction.) These forms of inference were drawn from Aristotle's three figures of syllogism and passed through a series of metamorphoses in Peirce's refractory.
Though they follow one another in the typical progress of inquiry, these elements of inference may also be combined in other ways, for example, to yield mixed forms of reasoning such as analogy. (Peirce 1982, 180)



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