A Practical Logic of Cognitive Systems

1st Edition

The Reach of Abduction: Insight and Trial

Print ISBN: 9780444550408
eBook ISBN: 9780080460925
Imprint: Elsevier Science
Published Date: 2nd May 2005
Page Count: 496
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The present work is a continuation of the authors' acclaimed multi-volume A Practical Logic of Cognitive Systems. After having investigated the notion of relevance in their previous volume, Gabbay and Woods now turn to abduction. In this highly original approach, abduction is construed as ignorance-preserving inference, in which conjecture plays a pivotal role. Abduction is a response to a cognitive target that cannot be hit on the basis of what the agent currently knows. The abducer selects a hypothesis which were it true would enable the reasoner to attain his target. He concludes from this fact that the hypothesis may be conjectured. In allowing conjecture to stand in for the knowledge he fails to have, the abducer reveals himself to be a satisficer, since an abductive solution is not a solution from knowledge. Key to the authors' analysis is the requirement that a conjectured proposition is not just what a reasoner might allow himself to assume, but a proposition he must defeasibly release as a premiss for further inferences in the domain of enquiry in which the original abduction problem has arisen.

The coverage of the book is extensive, from the philosophy of science to computer science and AI, from diagnostics to the law, from historical explanation to linguistic interpretation. One of the volume's strongest contributions is its exploration of the abductive character of criminal trials, with special attention given to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Underlying their analysis of abductive reasoning is the authors' conception of practical agency. In this approach, practical agency is dominantly a matter of the comparative modesty of an agent's cognitive agendas, together with comparatively scant resources available for their advancement. Seen in these ways, abduction ha

Key Features

· Reach of Abduction is fully integrated with a background logic of cognitive systems.

· The most extensive coverage compared to competitive works

· Demonstrates not only that abduction is a form of ignorance preserving inference but that it is a mode of inference that is wholly rational.

· Demonstrates the satisficing rather than maximizing character of abduction.

· The development of formal models of abduction is considerably more extensive than one finds in existing literature. It is an especially impressive amalgam of sophisticated conceptual analysis and extensive logical modelling.


For researchers, graduate students and senior undergraduates in logic, computer science, AI, belief dynamics, argumentation theory, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, linguistics, forensic science, legal reasoning and related areas.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Preface.

A Practical Logic of Cognitive Systems

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical Logic Conceptual Models of Abduction
  3. The Structure of Abduction
  4. Explanationist Abduction
  5. Non-Plausibilistic Abduction
  6. Diagnostic Abduction in AI
  7. The Characteristic and the Plausible
  8. Relevance and Analogy
  9. Interpretation Abduction Formal Models of Abduction
  10. A Glimpse of Formality
  11. A General Theory of Logical Systems
  12. A Base Logic
  13. An Abductive Mechanism for the Base Logic Bibliography. Index .


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"This book starts with a philosophical analysis of abduction, overviews the previously proposed approaches, and explains the state-of-the-art and algorithms for formalizing abduction." -Olga M. Kosheleva, in MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS