Abduction, Deduction, and Induction:
Their applications in quantitative methods

Chong-ho Yu, Ph.D.



hile quantitative methods have been widely applied by social scientists such as sociologists, psychologists, and economists, their philosophical premises and assumptions are rarely examined. The philosophical ideas introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) are helpful for researchers in understanding the application of quantitative methods specific to the foundational concepts of deduction, abduction and induction.  In the Peircean logical system the nature of knowledge and reality relate to each of these concepts: the logic of abduction and deduction contribute to our conceptual understanding of a phenomenon, while the logic of induction adds quantitative details to our conceptual knowledge. At the stage of abduction, the goal is to explore data, find a pattern, and suggest a plausible hypothesis; deduction is to refine the hypothesis based upon other plausible premises; and induction is empirical substantiation.  This article seeks to investigate the premises, limitations and applications of deduction, abduction and induction within quantitative methodology.

The original version of this paper was presented in 1994 AERA:

Yu, C. H. (1994, April). Induction? Deduction? Abduction? Is there a logic of EDA? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Researcher Association, New Orleans, Louisiana. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 376 173)
The current version is under review. Please do not distribute or quote the paper without the authors' permission. If you accept these terms and conditions, you can download the paper.

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