Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Abductive Inference and the Theory of the Inversion of the Probability

Landro Alberto Héctor, Econometrics Research Center - University of Buenos Aires
Gonzalez Mirta Lidia, Econometrics Research Center - University of Buenos Aires & Economic Research Department - Central Bank of Argentina.

The inference process evolves along a course that starts from a set of information, which transits through what could be called an intermediate state to conclude with the nomination of an initially unknown proposition. Depending on the nature of the set of information taken as a starting point and, above all, on the proposal that expresses the conclusion, it is possible to recognize three types of inference: induction, deduction and abduction. The first type of inference was the deduction, developed by Aristotle in his "Analytical Primitives". The induction arose from the philosophical contributions of Marsilio de Padua, Francis Bacon and William de Ockham and the experimental and scientific methods of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei. Abduction, developed by Charles Sanders Peirce in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in the field of the logic of scientific discovery, constitutes a kind of inference directed at the invention, discovery or creation of hypotheses. It is defined by a syllogism in which the major premise is true, while the minor premise is only possible, so the conclusion is affected by uncertainty. Peirce linked the abduction with the explanation of the behavior of phenomena, providing a foundation for all heuristic processes and generating a movement whose influence currently ranges from economic thinking to the philosophy of religion. The historical investigation on the inferential methods in terms of the probabilistic analysis carried out in this work, allowed to demonstrate that the canons of the abduction obey the postulates of the theory of the inversion of the probability, very previous to the proposal of Pierce, and that their foundations coincide with the reasons that gave rise to the "Bernoulli problem" and the consequent demonstrations of Bayes, Laplace and Poisson of the theorem of the probability of the causes.

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Keywords: Inferential method, abduction, Peirce, Bernoulli´s theorem

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