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PHD-DESIGN  February 2015

PHD-DESIGN February 2015

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Subject:

Re: How did we come to be abductive?

From:

Bob Este <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:37:29 -0700

Content-Type:

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Dear Jude -- first, let me thank you for your kind replies.

Second, your distinctions between "reasoning poorly" and "reasoning too 
accurately" (applied to deduction and / or induction) and perhaps 
yielding an evolutionary advantage through abduction, are interesting IMHO.

To meaningfully hold on to the idea of such "advantage", I think we 
would have to simultaneously hold that "reasoning poorly" and "reasoning 
too accurately" could, in similar fashion and given certain 
circumstances, yield either no advantage, or even disadvantage.

So, rather than thinking about "starting out with a weakness in 
rationality", this core idea might be even more useful in terms of how 
we (collectively) reason in different ways, for different purposes, and 
especially by employing different reflective capacities and abilities to 
act.

This line of reasoning would modify the original chosen term of 
"weakness" to be the more inclusive term of "weaknesses and strengths" 
(I think such a move also takes away any need to think that irony plays 
any role here).

 From this, we can likely agree that from time to time we regularly and 
for many reasons think inductively, deductively and abductively in 
blended ways. These ways of thinking are driven, chosen and shaped by 
many factors, and sometimes we engage in thinking that has profound 
weakness (we can agree /ceteris paribus /that, occasionally, we don't 
think very well), and at other times with great strength (we can agree 
/ceteris paribus /that, occasionally, we think extremely well).

With this, we are faced with a challenge. If we think in these various 
ways and for various reasons and do so well and poorly at different 
times, how can we improve our thinking? One of the "tricks" for 
increasing the likelihood of achieving "desirable / beneficial / good 
results" from thinking both poorly and well would be to ensure that we 
learn how to regularly engage, choose among and employ "different 
orders" of thinking and learning about our thinking and learning, e.g., 
to do the best we can to learn optimally from thinking of all kinds -- 
which "different orders" (of thinking and learning) would, as you say, 
be "beneficial ... for our capacity to survive".

So, taking such "different orders" into account, and especially the 
plausible utility of such "different orders", it seems we are dealing 
with metacognition and metalearning (terms we seem compelled to use 
until better ones come along).

As you know, such "meta" paths have been trod long and hard by many, 
over long periods of time, and fortunately this seems in general to have 
been to our collective benefit, with many useful results -- many of 
which remain to be developed, as many such paths are yet to be discovered.

This brings me to my third point -- I wish to consider your thought that 
we did not "come to be" abductive, but rather that abduction "was always 
there".

I am not entirely sure what you mean by this, or how what you offer 
could be more clearly explicated. Please permit me to explore a bit of each.

If you are of the opinion that "abduction" (is and) always (was) there, 
are you at the same time proposing that "reasoning to the best 
explanation" isn't something that we can learn to do? That somehow, we 
are born knowing how to do this in some complete sense, and, especially, 
that we are born knowing when to apply abduction, to "be" abductive? Do 
we "abduce" automatically, perhaps in some sense without even thinking 
about it, especially when we make errors of over- or under-commitment in 
inductive or deductive reasoning? Do we somehow automatically become 
"abductive" in our reasoning to provide a kind of "practical wiggle 
room" or a "conceptual cushion" to hopefully increase our chances of 
living more successfully in the world, rather than worrying about 
whether our chairs will fall through the floor (a very nice 
illustration, by the way)?

As you yourself suggest, none of us would be able to live successfully 
in the world without abduction. If the only things we could do were to 
deduce and induce perfectly, and then rigorously adhere to all logical 
expressions of and methods of communicating about such reasoning, we 
likely could not survive for very long (unless we found ourselves to be 
in truly unique circumstances).

You may be absolutely correct with the idea that abduction is essential 
to provide such "room" for practicality -- for a kind of practical and 
developmental beneficial "fuzziness", if I can put it that way.

However, as thorough as your reflection on this may have been, I have 
yet to be convinced that "abduction" (is and) always (was) there.

I suspect we would readily agree that it is highly unlikely that any of 
us arrive in this world fully equipped with all the "burned-in hardware 
and software" we will ever need to successfully learn and think at all 
levels and all orders. To my knowledge, no-one has ever been born as a 
full and complete adult with a full complement of knowledge, skills and 
experiences upon which to draw -- as a fully functioning adult human 
being. We do, however, seem to come into the world very well-equipped to 
learn, and to learn how to learn, and do so successfully in a wide 
variety of ways. This suggests that your thought of abduction always 
"being there" is almost certainly not the case -- at least, not in the 
way that your initial words appear to have suggested.

However, you may have been suggesting the /inevitability/ of abductive 
reasoning as a component of the "reasoning arsenal" of humans that each 
of us (to the best of our abilities and capacities) learns, develops and 
employs to think and live successfully.

That is -- if I can be so bold -- you may have intended to say that a 
dynamical and "reasonably balanced" blend of induction, deduction and 
abduction is essential if we are to be a successful and collaboratively 
productive social animal capable of thinking and learning, exploring, 
adapting and leading, and successfully reproducing, surviving and 
thriving; and, that we are compelled -- in fact we come into this world 
equipped -- to learn how to do these things as well as possible, in 
almost all circumstances.

But then, as you say -- of course this could all be wrong, at least for 
the reason that you have suggested! Indeed, there may be others!

Thanks again for the opportunity to engage, and to share the engagement. 
Hopefully this helps somewhat with the exploration of design research.

Best wishes,

Bob

- - -

Bob Este, Ph.D
Owner and CEO
VectorRDI Ltd.
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada



On 19/02/15 8:27 AM, CHUA Soo Meng Jude (GPL, PLS) wrote:
> I suspect we did not come to be abductive.  Rather abduction was always there abd those of us who cvarried it were more fit for survival, and so by natural  selection humans who were inclined to make abductive interpretations of events passed on their genetic inclination for thinking abductively. and so we are here today, with this capacity.  my thoery, or better hypothesis is itself wild abduction.  but think about what hume says.  deductive reasoning, ie, really rigorous, accurate reasoning, does not yield all those inferences we employ in daily life. these typical reasioning type he calls inductive, is of course what he calls a problem viz the problem of induction (he is referring to the abductive generalzation), and these hume calls the crude reasoning of th masses, but these help us live. can you imagine yourself daily worrying if the chair you sit on might sinkinto the ground?  yet to have the general inductive or abductive faith  that it will not is actually poor reasoning, on deductive thinkings measure. just as well, whilst deductively indefensible, our inductive poor judgements turn out for the most part to be corroborated daily, by sheer chance. so my guess is, those who reasoned poorly, to a certain extent, had an evolutionary edge over those who reasoned too accurately.  its ironic, but i think its true.  and thise who would livetheir lives as if they could believe only what is deductively defensible, we might classify as mentally unwell or paranoid...whereas a logician might actually attest that they have sound reason on their side. but Bob you asked a very interesting question.  So our abductive skills if you like, on my theory, started out as a weakness from the point if view of rationality, but that weakness led to very benefiial side effects for our capcity to survive.
>
> of course this could all be wrong.  it is after all, an abduction merely.
>
> Jude
>
>
>
> ,
> ________________________________________
> From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Bob Este [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 1:28 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: How did we come to be abductive?
>
> Dear all:
>
> I've been reading and reflecting upon the recent exchanges about
> abduction, etc. ...<snip>
>
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> PhD-Design mailing list<[log in to unmask]>
> Discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design
> Subscribe or Unsubscribe at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/phd-design
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