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Abductive Reasoning Definition

Written by: Brooke Mohr

What is Abductive Reasoning Defined

The abductive reasoning method is the logical process of making observations and seeking the hypothesis that would best fit. It refers to justifying two correlating concepts through the scientific method. A list of incomplete observations is analyzed to create the best prediction.

A Little More on Abductive Reasoning

Abductive reasoning begins as an incomplete observation and results in a hypothesis to explain the correlation of observations. As opposed to deductive reasoning, abductive reasoning yields a result that is plausible without being verified. With abductive reasoning, there remains a certain level of doubt. Within research, abductive reasoning based claims utilize retreat terms such as “best available.”

Abductive reasoning is often referred to as an inference to the best explanation. Abductive reasoning begins with a list of consequences and seeks to deduce the preconditions. This is often seen in the medical field when a doctor takes a list of symptoms and deduces the most likely medical ailment.

Due to the multiple plausible hypotheses, abduction recognized as equal to the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. Albert Einstein has been used abductive reasoning to explain the space-time continuum. Business owners utilize abductive reasoning often.

For example, when interviewing potential employees, owners make a list of observations. The candidate is one time and has an extensive portfolio. The employer makes take the list of observations and deduce that the candidate is responsible. While that is a plausible hypothesis, it can not be verified. The candidate’s mother may have simply woken her child, handed them a portfolio she put together and whisked them off to the interview. Even though there could be several explanations, humans tend to abduce a single hypothesis in order to better understand the world around them and discount various possibilities. While this is a less formal application, abductive reasoning can also be prior in Bayesian Statistics, where the applications for business is innumerable.

Science recognizes the following four commonly used forms of abductive reasoning:

Logic-Based Abduction is the process of extracting a commentary based on observations according to a specific domain in order to form a hypothesis.

Set Cover Abduction is a form of abduction based on reversing the function that formulated the observable facts of the theory. Abductive Validation is the action of confirming a theorem through abductive reasoning, also referred to as successive approximation. According to this concept, the best possible explanation, defined in terms of simplicity and elegance, is considered thusly valid.

Abductive reasoning is commonly used in hypothesis creation in scientific fields as a means for identifying assumptions that will lead to a specific goal.

Probabilistic Abduction is a subcategory of abductive validation. This form of abductive reasoning is primarily useful in sectors where probability distribution over various theorems requires extraction.

References for Abductive Reasoning

Academic Research for Abductive Reasoning

  • Abductive reasoning in logistics research, Kovács, G., & Spens, K. M. (2005). Abductive reasoning in logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 35(2), 132-144.  The purpose of the study was to create a framework for discussing three primary research approaches in regards to logistics. This was accomplished through the review of three major logistics journals. The research found that deductive reasoning as the primary method while indicating a need for increased utilization h inductive and abductive reasoning in the hypotheses development process.
  • Theorising and practitioners in HRD: the role of abductive reasoning, Gold, J., Walton, J., Cureton, P., & Anderson, L. (2011). Theorising and practitioners in HRD: the role of abductive reasoning. Journal of European Industrial Training, 35(3), 230-246. Purpose – The article explores abductive reasoning as an unacknowledged logical process utilized by human resource development scientists and professionals. The paper examines contemporary analyses of tradition theory and the consequential relevance gap in the field. The researchers explore the conceptual implications of abductive reasoning in human resource development and outline implications for said professionals.
  • Expressing and verifying business contracts with abductive logic programming, Alberti, M., Chesani, F., Gavanelli, M., Lamma, E., Mello, P., Montali, M., & Torroni, P. (2008). Expressing and verifying business contracts with abductive logic programming. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 12(4), 9-38. Researchers lay the foundation of SCIFF as a declarative language as developed from abductive logic.  The abductive logic programming can be programmed to accommodate different finite domain variables and forward rules while predicating definitions. The abductive reasoning program is an absolute SCIFF proof procedure which is ideal for business contract specifications.
  • Business+ design: exploring a competitive edge for business thinking, Ungaretti, T., Chomowicz, P., Canniffe, B. J., Johnson, B., Weiss, E., Dunn, K., & Cropper, C. (2009). Business+ design: exploring a competitive edge for business thinking. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 74(3), 4. The researchers surveyed graduate business programs and analyzed the logical reasoning skills taught to students. The article outlines the importance of both interdisciplinary study and abductive reasoning. The scholars found the greatest benefit to students when the two variables were taught in unison.
  • Towards knowledge-based product development: the 3-D CAD model of knowledge creation, Baba, Y., & Nobeoka, K. (1998). Towards knowledge-based product development: the 3-D CAD model of knowledge creation. Research policy, 26(6), 643-659. The researchers outline potential uses of 3-D CAD systems in the formation of knowledge-based product development systems. Through a model example, the researchers demonstrate the use of 3-D CAD systems in the formulation of abduction hypotheses. Within the research, implications are discussed for management and organizational adaptations.
  • Supply chain management and sustainability: procrastinating integration in mainstream research, De Brito, M. P., & Van der Laan, E. A. (2010). Supply chain management and sustainability: procrastinating integration in mainstream research. Sustainability, 2(4), 859-870. While previous research has outlined the importance of integrating sustainability issues with supply chain and operation management issues, the article finds that this is still not common practice. The paper applies behavioral theory and abductive reasoning to expound upon this phenomenon coming to the conclusion that focus on functionality takes precedence over other issues.
  • The crossover-dialog approach: The importance of multiple methods for international business, Polsa, P. (2013). The crossover-dialog approach: The importance of multiple methods for international business. Journal of Business Research, 66(3), 288-297. Researchers scrutinizes the approaches global commerce can apply to culturally diverse empirical settings. Instead of focusing on a single approach, the article suggests combing abduction, emic, and deductive reasoning. The article uses a study from China to illustrate the efficiency of a crossover-dialog design.
  • A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research, Spens, K. M., & Kovács, G. (2006). A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 36(5), 374-390. The paper seeks to analyze three research methodological approaches in logistics through Kovacs and Spens framework. The article synthesizes information from three major logistic journals over the course of five years. The research indicates a dominance of deductive reasoning despite the growing importance of inductive and abductive reasoning.
  • Interactive credential negotiation for stateful business processes, Koshutanski, H., & Massacci, F. (2005, May). Interactive credential negotiation for stateful business processes. In International Conference on Trust Management (pp. 256-272). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. While discussing the shortfallings of Business Processes for Web Services, the researchers submit an abductive logical substructure. The framework would provide clients with a verified and complete algorithm. The infrastructure and algorithm would provide clients with a solution that is resistant to DoS attempts.
  • Design Thinking for Business Analysis, Frisendal, T. (2012). Design Thinking for Business Analysis. In Design Thinking Business Analysis (pp. 15-24). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. The article outlines the redesigning of Business Analysis. While still including SWOTs and RASCIs, the outlined system includes abductive reasoning and inclusion of expansive business information. With years of analysis, the outlook for the proposed process is promising.

 

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