Abduction: A Logical Criterion For Programme and Project Evaluation

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Abstract

Evaluation is afflicted by a number of ethical and methodological problems. A major problem is the difficulty evaluation has in maintaining itself as an independent, autonomous discipline. An answer to these problems is often sought by recourse to the more structured field of research, even though the canonical logic of research and its criteria are not suitable for most work in which evaluation as a discipline is required. A possible solution for this dilemma can be found in the work of the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. According to Peirce, the decision to adopt a new hypothesis by a scientist, researcher or, for our purposes, evaluator is as logical a process as deduction or induction. Peirce calls this process ‘abduction’. The evaluator, much like the scientist working through a process of discovery, raises hypotheses that stem from the field being evaluated. By adopting Peirce's methods we can build a logical methodological framework for the process of evaluation. Such a methodology can then provide criteria similar to those used for research, but without losing the unique approach provided by the discipline of evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-432
Number of pages18
JournalEvaluation
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2000

Keywords

  • deduction
  • evaluation hypotheses
  • induction
  • retroduction
  • validity

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