Abductive Reasoning in Clinical Diagnostics

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In this chapter, we look at the reasoning process called abduction as it happens in clinical reasoning, specifically, in diagnostics. Abduction is recognized as one of the most important forms of reasoning in studying relations between causes and effects, and often attributed to reasoning processes in scientific discoveries. Interestingly, abduction does not only play a role in scientific reasoning, but it is believed that people apply it in common everyday scenarios, for example, by detectives and judges. Yet there have been few attempts to document this form of reasoning in clinical interactions. Doctors apply abduction daily in their clinical practice, that is, in the attempt to diagnose their patients, and, as it will be seen, patients themselves use abductive reasoning to understand and explain their own symptoms. This chapter provides empirical evidence of the use of abductive inferential reasoning in clinical medicine, focusing on diagnosis as it happens in the moment of interaction between a doctor and their patient. The goal is not to document in a structured way the extent to which abductive inferential patterns appear in a typical doctor-patient interaction, but rather to illustrate that kind of interaction and mode of reasoning using real dialogues.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Abductive Cognition
EditorsLorenzo Magnani
Number of pages13
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-10134-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-10135-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • Abductive reasoning
  • Diagnostic reasoning
  • Doctor-patient interaction
  • Medical reasoning
  • 611 Philosophy

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