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Extra info for Noam Chomsky: On Power, Knowledge and Human Nature

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As a consequence we have rational grounds for rejecting or defending particular Chomsky's Methodological Naturalism 33 theories, always recognising that these are never absolute or closed assumptions and that they will change over time. What is crucial here, and this is an issue that cuts across all forms of inquiry in the social sciences, is that we retain the means by which we can evaluate and judge on critical grounds between theories, ideas, values and so on. We are not left with a form of judgmental relativism, a trend that has been such a popular feature of contemporary social and political thought (Taylor, 1994).

121-31). Hume argued that we could have no certainty that causation actually existed in the world, and that, indeed, it might well be a psychological phenomenon that we impose upon the world ourselves. However, science presupposed that causality lay behind events and the only way of gaining insight into this was through some form of inductive technique whereby experience enabled us to confirm that events happened in a particular and regular order. Thus, if we could observe that specific events occurred regularly and with the same observed detail and sequence, then we could induce that this was an example of a causal relation.

I will turn to a fuller elaboration of how Chomsky sees abduction as a feature of our cognitive faculties in Chapter 3 but it can be noted here that abduction is a way of explaining how it is that we are able to construct theories at all. It is the power (the cognitive faculty) that enables us, in conjunction with experience, to create solutions to the particular problems with which we are concerned. Retroduction, by contrast, is the model-building process by which we can attempt to formalise these theories and evaluate them in the context of available evidence.

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