Abductive reasoning, information, and mechanical systems
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We investigate, from a philosophical perspective, the relation between abductive reasoning and information in the context of biological systems. Emphasis is given to the organizational role played by abductive reasoning in practical activities of embodied embedded agency that involve meaningful information. From this perspective, meaningful information is provisionally characterized as a selforganizing process of pattern generation that constrains coherent action. We argue that this process can be considered as a part of evolutionarily developed learning abilities of organisms in order to help with their survival. We investigate the case of inorganic mechanical systems (like robots), which deal only with stable forms of habits, rather than with evolving learning abilities. Some difficulties are considered concerning the hypothesis that mechanical systems may operate with meaningful information, present in abductive reasoning. Finally, an example of hypotheses creation in the domain of medical sciences is presented in order to illustrate the complexity of abduction in practical reasoning concerning human activities. © 2007 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.