Retroduction and retrodiction: Abductive inference in realist practice.
Lipscomb, M. (2010) Retroduction and retrodiction: Abductive inference in realist practice. In: ESRC funded seminar series: Critical Realism in Action Group Applied Methods for Social Mechanisms, University of Leeds: Business School, 18th June 2010.
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Although retroductive and retrodictive inference play a significant role in critical realist theory – indeed, they might reasonably be considered necessary or integral to realist ambition – major challenges attend the use of these forms of abductive reasoning in research practice and, perhaps, these challenges are underplayed by some theorists. This presentation employs examples from realist research to explore the benefits and problems that attend abductive reasoning and, whilst the logic or coherence of all forms of inference may be criticised it is argued that, in the social realm, the robustness of claims grounded on hypothetic retroduction or retrodiction can appear markedly exposed or insecure.