Playing Musement Games: Retroduction in Social Research, with Particular Reference to Indigenous Knowledge in Environmental and Health Education

  • L Price


My aim here is to introduce the concept of musement (retroduction or abduction) as an appropriate alternative to deduction and induction, both in indigenous knowledge (IK) specifically and in social science generally. As an example, I will use musement to tentatively address some of the ethical problems of using indigenous knowledge (IK) in environmental education and health education. This paper will therefore be of use both to researchers/educators wanting a discussion of retroduction, and researchers/educators wanting a discussion of indigenous knowledge epistemology and its relationship with ethics. I am arguing, from a perspective that allows a stratified reality (things can be real even if not measurable or actually present), that, we admit retroduction into our list of allowable research logics. In terms of IK, the result of accepting retroduction as a valid logic is that we allow IK to be dynamic and non-reified. It also allows a previously ignored aspect of IK, its spiritual/non-empirical beliefs, to be validated through ethical outcomes experienced in our lives, rather than through the previous criteria of empirical validity. In other words, we ask for IK: does believing in (whatever) adequately explain experience and/or provide optimistic, long term, ethical, appropriate ways of living? Thus, retroduction has the potential to allow IK to contribute to a normative ethics.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2411-5959
print ISSN: 1810-0333