Abduction and diagrams

Ahti Veikko Pietarinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Abductive conclusions are drawn in a special, co-hortative mood (Peirce's 'investigand'). Abductive conclusions are representative interpretants that represent abduction (or retroduction) as a form of reasoning that can convey a general conception of the truth. The truth is not asserted; abduction merely delivers the idea of a matter of course, rendering that idea comparatively simple and natural, hence assuring us of its justified assertibility. Hence abductive reasoning is at home in addressing 'How Possible'-questions in science. Abductive reasoning concerns the question of how things might, could or would conceivably be such that they can be plausibly asserted. Peirce took all reasoning to be diagrammatic and representable using the graphical method of logic. Yet no examples have previously been found in his large manuscript corpus of what such non-deductive graphs might look like. This paper proposes a new interpretation of a sole exception, a sketch of two graphs from a rejected page from 1903, which might be the only surviving example of Peirce's abductive graphs. The proposed interpretation takes them to be representative interpretants of this special inverse type of inference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-468
Number of pages22
JournalLogic Journal of the IGPL
Issue number4
Early online date9 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Philosophy

User-Defined Keywords

  • abduction
  • co-hortative mood
  • diagrams
  • economy
  • Peirce
  • semiotics
  • uberty


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