DS-1997-04: Seeking Explanations: Abduction in Logic, Philosophy of Science and Artificial Intelligence

DS-1997-04: Aliseda-LLera, Atocha (1997) Seeking Explanations: Abduction in Logic, Philosophy of Science and Artificial Intelligence. Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam.

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In this dissertation I study abduction, that is, reasoning from an
observation to its possible explanations, from a logical point of view.
This approach naturally leads to connections with theories of explanation
in the philosophy of science, and to computationally oriented theories
of belief change in Artificial Intelligence.

Many different approaches to abduction can be found in the literature, as
well as a bewildering variety of instances of explanatory reasoning. To
delineate our subject more precisely, and create some order, a general
taxonomy for abductive reasoning is proposed in chapter 1.
Several forms of abduction are obtained by instantiating three
parameters: the kind of reasoning involved (e.g., deductive,
statistical), the kind of observation triggering the abduction
(novelty, or anomaly w.r.t. some background theory), and the kind of
explanations produced (facts, rules, or theories). In chapter 2, I
choose a number of major variants of abduction, thus conceived, and
investigate their logical properties. A convenient measure for this
purpose are so-called `structural rules' of inference. Abduction
deviates from classical consequence in this respect, much like many
current non-monotonic consequence relations and dynamic styles of
inference. As a result we can classify forms of abduction by different
structural rules. A more computational analysis of processes producing
abductive inferences is then presented in chapter 3, using the
framework of semantic tableaux. I show how to implement various search
strategies to generate various forms of abductive explanations.

Our eventual conclusion is that abductive processes should be our primary
concern, with abductive inferences their secondary `products'. Finally,
chapter 4 is a confrontation of the previous analysis with existing
themes in the philosophy of science and artificial intelligence. In
particular, I analyse two well-known models for scientific explanation
(the deductive-nomological one, and the inductive-statistical one) as
forms of abduction. This then provides them with a structural logical
analysis in the style of chapter 2. Moreover, I argue that abduction
can model dynamics of belief revision in artificial intelligence. For
this purpose, an extended version of the semantic tableaux of chapter
3 provides a new representation of the operations of expansion,
and contraction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Report Nr: DS-1997-04
Series Name: ILLC Dissertation (DS) Series
Year: 1997
Subjects: Computation
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 15:16
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2022 15:16
URI: https://eprints.illc.uva.nl/id/eprint/2001

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