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Keywords:

  • abduction;
  • empiricism;
  • induction;
  • Ernan McMullin;
  • retroduction;
  • scientific realism

Abstract In The Inference That Makes Science, Ernan McMullin recounts the clear historical progress he saw toward a vision of the sciences as conclusions reached rationally on the basis of empirical evidence. Distinctive of this vision was his view of science as driven by a specific form of inference, retroduction. To understand this properly, we need to disentangle the description of retroductive inference from the claims made on its behalf. To end I will suggest that the real rival to McMullin's vision of science is not the methodologies he criticizes so successfully but a more radical empiricist alternative in epistemology.