Explaining the past in the geosciences

Robert Inkpen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abductive reasoning is central to reconstructing the past in the geosciences. This paper outlines the nature of the abductive method and restates it in Bayesian terms. Evidence plays a key role in this working method and, in particular, traces of the past are important in this explanatory framework. Traces, whether singularly or as groups, are interpreted within the context of the event for which they have evidential claims. Traces are not considered as independent entities but rather as inter-related pieces of information concerning the likelihood of specific events. Exemplification of the use of such traces is provided by dissecting an example of their use in the environmental reconstruction of mountain climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-507
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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