Peirce: The Arguments of the Philosophers

Peirce’s Philosophy
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In that context Peirce speaks of collateral experience, collateral observation, collateral acquaintance, all in much the same terms. Among Peirce's many sign typologies, three stand out, interlocked. The first typology depends on the sign itself, the second on how the sign stands for its denoted object, and the third on how the sign stands for its object to its interpretant.

Also, each of the three typologies is a three-way division, a trichotomy , via Peirce's three phenomenological categories : 1 quality of feeling, 2 reaction, resistance, and 3 representation, mediation. Qualisign, sinsign, legisign also called tone, token, type, and also called potisign, actisign, famisign : [] This typology classifies every sign according to the sign's own phenomenological category—the qualisign is a quality, a possibility, a "First"; the sinsign is a reaction or resistance, a singular object, an actual event or fact, a "Second"; and the legisign is a habit, a rule, a representational relation, a "Third".

Icon, index, symbol : This typology, the best known one, classifies every sign according to the category of the sign's way of denoting its object—the icon also called semblance or likeness by a quality of its own, the index by factual connection to its object, and the symbol by a habit or rule for its interpretant. Rheme, dicisign, argument also called sumisign, dicisign, suadisign, also seme, pheme, delome, [] and regarded as very broadened versions of the traditional term, proposition, argument : This typology classifies every sign according to the category which the interpretant attributes to the sign's way of denoting its object—the rheme, for example a term, is a sign interpreted to represent its object in respect of quality; the dicisign, for example a proposition, is a sign interpreted to represent its object in respect of fact; and the argument is a sign interpreted to represent its object in respect of habit or law.

This is the culminating typology of the three, where the sign is understood as a structural element of inference. Thus each of the three typologies is a three-valued parameter for every sign. The three parameters are not independent of each other; many co-classifications are absent, for reasons pertaining to the lack of either habit-taking or singular reaction in a quality, and the lack of habit-taking in a singular reaction. The result is not 27 but instead ten classes of signs fully specified at this level of analysis.

Borrowing a brace of concepts from Aristotle , Peirce examined three basic modes of inference — abduction , deduction , and induction —in his "critique of arguments" or "logic proper". Peirce also called abduction "retroduction", "presumption", and, earliest of all, "hypothesis". He characterized it as guessing and as inference to an explanatory hypothesis. He sometimes expounded the modes of inference by transformations of the categorical syllogism Barbara AAA , for example in "Deduction, Induction, and Hypothesis" Rule: All the beans from this bag are white.

Case: These beans are beans from this bag. Case: These beans are [randomly selected] from this bag. Result: These beans are white. Result: These beans [oddly] are white. Peirce in "A Theory of Probable Inference" Studies in Logic equated hypothetical inference with the induction of characters of objects as he had done in effect before []. Eventually dissatisfied, by he distinguished them once and for all and also wrote that he now took the syllogistic forms and the doctrine of logical extension and comprehension as being less basic than he had thought.

In he presented the following logical form for abductive inference: []. The logical form does not also cover induction, since induction neither depends on surprise nor proposes a new idea for its conclusion. Induction seeks facts to test a hypothesis; abduction seeks a hypothesis to account for facts. Peirce's recipe for pragmatic thinking, which he called pragmatism and, later, pragmaticism , is recapitulated in several versions of the so-called pragmatic maxim.

Here is one of his more emphatic reiterations of it:. Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object. As a movement, pragmatism began in the early s in discussions among Peirce, William James , and others in the Metaphysical Club.

James among others regarded some articles by Peirce such as " The Fixation of Belief " and especially " How to Make Our Ideas Clear " as foundational to pragmatism. Peirce differed from James and the early John Dewey , in some of their tangential enthusiasms, in being decidedly more rationalistic and realistic, in several senses of those terms, throughout the preponderance of his own philosophical moods.

In Peirce coined the new name pragmaticism "for the precise purpose of expressing the original definition", saying that "all went happily" with James's and F. Schiller 's variant uses of the old name "pragmatism" and that he coined the new name because of the old name's growing use in "literary journals, where it gets abused". Yet he cited as causes, in a manuscript, his differences with James and Schiller and, in a publication, his differences with James as well as literary author Giovanni Papini 's declaration of pragmatism's indefinability.

Peirce in any case regarded his views that truth is immutable and infinity is real, as being opposed by the other pragmatists, but he remained allied with them on other issues. Pragmatism begins with the idea that belief is that on which one is prepared to act. Peirce's pragmatism is a method of clarification of conceptions of objects. It equates any conception of an object to a conception of that object's effects to a general extent of the effects' conceivable implications for informed practice.

It is a method of sorting out conceptual confusions occasioned, for example, by distinctions that make sometimes needed formal yet not practical differences. He formulated both pragmatism and statistical principles as aspects of scientific logic, in his "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" series of articles. By way of example of how to clarify conceptions, he addressed conceptions about truth and the real as questions of the presuppositions of reasoning in general. In clearness's second grade the "nominal" grade , he defined truth as a sign's correspondence to its object, and the real as the object of such correspondence, such that truth and the real are independent of that which you or I or any actual, definite community of inquirers think.

After that needful but confined step, next in clearness's third grade the pragmatic, practice-oriented grade he defined truth as that opinion which would be reached, sooner or later but still inevitably, by research taken far enough, such that the real does depend on that ideal final opinion—a dependence to which he appeals in theoretical arguments elsewhere, for instance for the long-run validity of the rule of induction.

Peirce said that a conception's meaning consists in " all general modes of rational conduct " implied by "acceptance" of the conception—that is, if one were to accept, first of all, the conception as true, then what could one conceive to be consequent general modes of rational conduct by all who accept the conception as true?

His pragmatism does not equate a conception's meaning, its intellectual purport, with the conceived benefit or cost of the conception itself, like a meme or, say, propaganda , outside the perspective of its being true, nor, since a conception is general, is its meaning equated with any definite set of actual consequences or upshots corroborating or undermining the conception or its worth.

His pragmatism also bears no resemblance to "vulgar" pragmatism, which misleadingly connotes a ruthless and Machiavellian search for mercenary or political advantage. Instead the pragmatic maxim is the heart of his pragmatism as a method of experimentational mental reflection [] arriving at conceptions in terms of conceivable confirmatory and disconfirmatory circumstances—a method hospitable to the formation of explanatory hypotheses, and conducive to the use and improvement of verification.

Peirce's pragmatism, as method and theory of definitions and conceptual clearness, is part of his theory of inquiry, [] which he variously called speculative, general, formal or universal rhetoric or simply methodeutic. Critical common-sensism, [] treated by Peirce as a consequence of his pragmatism, is his combination of Thomas Reid's common-sense philosophy with a fallibilism that recognizes that propositions of our more or less vague common sense now indubitable may later come into question, for example because of transformations of our world through science.

It includes efforts to work up in tests genuine doubts for a core group of common indubitables that vary slowly if at all. In " The Fixation of Belief " , Peirce described inquiry in general not as the pursuit of truth per se but as the struggle to move from irritating, inhibitory doubt born of surprise, disagreement, and the like, and to reach a secure belief, belief being that on which one is prepared to act. That let Peirce frame scientific inquiry as part of a broader spectrum and as spurred, like inquiry generally, by actual doubt, not mere verbal, quarrelsome, or hyperbolic doubt , which he held to be fruitless.

Peirce sketched four methods of settling opinion, ordered from least to most successful:. Peirce held that, in practical affairs, slow and stumbling ratiocination is often dangerously inferior to instinct and traditional sentiment, and that the scientific method is best suited to theoretical research, [] which in turn should not be trammeled by the other methods and practical ends; reason's "first rule" [] is that, in order to learn, one must desire to learn and, as a corollary, must not block the way of inquiry. Scientific method excels over the others finally by being deliberately designed to arrive—eventually—at the most secure beliefs, upon which the most successful practices can be based.

Starting from the idea that people seek not truth per se but instead to subdue irritating, inhibitory doubt, Peirce showed how, through the struggle, some can come to submit to truth for the sake of belief's integrity, seek as truth the guidance of potential conduct correctly to its given goal, and wed themselves to the scientific method.

Insofar as clarification by pragmatic reflection suits explanatory hypotheses and fosters predictions and testing, pragmatism points beyond the usual duo of foundational alternatives: deduction from self-evident truths, or rationalism ; and induction from experiential phenomena, or empiricism. Based on his critique of three modes of argument and different from either foundationalism or coherentism , Peirce's approach seeks to justify claims by a three-phase dynamic of inquiry:.

Thereby, Peirce devised an approach to inquiry far more solid than the flatter image of inductive generalization simpliciter , which is a mere re-labeling of phenomenological patterns. Peirce's pragmatism was the first time the scientific method was proposed as an epistemology for philosophical questions. A theory that succeeds better than its rivals in predicting and controlling our world is said to be nearer the truth. This is an operational notion of truth used by scientists. Peirce extracted the pragmatic model or theory of inquiry from its raw materials in classical logic and refined it in parallel with the early development of symbolic logic to address problems about the nature of scientific reasoning.

Abduction, deduction, and induction make incomplete sense in isolation from one another but comprise a cycle understandable as a whole insofar as they collaborate toward the common end of inquiry. In the pragmatic way of thinking about conceivable practical implications, every thing has a purpose, and, as possible, its purpose should first be denoted.

Abduction hypothesizes an explanation for deduction to clarify into implications to be tested so that induction can evaluate the hypothesis, in the struggle to move from troublesome uncertainty to more secure belief. No matter how traditional and needful it is to study the modes of inference in abstraction from one another, the integrity of inquiry strongly limits the effective modularity of its principal components.

There he also reviewed plausibility and inductive precision issues of critique of arguments. Abductive or retroductive phase. Guessing, inference to explanatory hypotheses for selection of those best worth trying. From abduction, Peirce distinguishes induction as inferring, on the basis of tests, the proportion of truth in the hypothesis. Every inquiry, whether into ideas, brute facts, or norms and laws, arises from surprising observations in one or more of those realms and for example at any stage of an inquiry already underway.

All explanatory content of theories comes from abduction, which guesses a new or outside idea so as to account in a simple, economical way for a surprising or complicated phenomenon. The modicum of success in our guesses far exceeds that of random luck, and seems born of attunement to nature by developed or inherent instincts, especially insofar as best guesses are optimally plausible and simple in the sense of the "facile and natural", as by Galileo 's natural light of reason and as distinct from "logical simplicity".

Its general rationale is inductive: it succeeds often enough and it has no substitute in expediting us toward new truths. A simple but unlikely guess, if not costly to test for falsity, may belong first in line for testing. A guess is intrinsically worth testing if it has plausibility or reasoned objective probability, while subjective likelihood , though reasoned, can be misleadingly seductive. Guesses can be selected for trial strategically, for their caution for which Peirce gave as example the game of Twenty Questions , breadth, or incomplexity. Inductive phase.

Evaluation of the hypothesis, inferring from observational or experimental tests of its deduced consequences. The long-run validity of the rule of induction is deducible from the principle presuppositional to reasoning in general that the real "is only the object of the final opinion to which sufficient investigation would lead"; [] in other words, anything excluding such a process would never be real.

Induction involving the ongoing accumulation of evidence follows "a method which, sufficiently persisted in", will "diminish the error below any predesignate degree".


Three stages:. Peirce drew on the methodological implications of the four incapacities —no genuine introspection, no intuition in the sense of non-inferential cognition, no thought but in signs, and no conception of the absolutely incognizable—to attack philosophical Cartesianism , of which he said that: []. No lone individual can reasonably hope to fulfill philosophy's multi-generational dream. When "candid and disciplined minds" continue to disagree on a theoretical issue, even the theory's author should feel doubts about it.

It trusts to "a single thread of inference depending often upon inconspicuous premisses" — when, instead, philosophy should, "like the successful sciences", proceed only from tangible, scrutinizable premisses and trust not to any one argument but instead to "the multitude and variety of its arguments" as forming, not a chain at least as weak as its weakest link, but "a cable whose fibers", soever "slender, are sufficiently numerous and intimately connected".

It renders many facts "absolutely inexplicable, unless to say that 'God makes them so' is to be regarded as an explanation" [] — when, instead, philosophy should avoid being "unidealistic", [] misbelieving that something real can defy or evade all possible ideas, and supposing, inevitably, "some absolutely inexplicable, unanalyzable ultimate", which explanatory surmise explains nothing and so is inadmissible. Peirce divided metaphysics into 1 ontology or general metaphysics, 2 psychical or religious metaphysics, and 3 physical metaphysics.

Peirce was a Scholastic Realist , declaring for the reality of generals as early as In his "The Logic of Relatives" he wrote:. I formerly defined the possible as that which in a given state of information real or feigned we do not know not to be true. But this definition today seems to me only a twisted phrase which, by means of two negatives, conceals an anacoluthon. We know in advance of experience that certain things are not true, because we see they are impossible. Peirce retained, as useful for some purposes, the definitions in terms of information states, but insisted that the pragmaticist is committed to a strong modal realism by conceiving of objects in terms of predictive general conditional propositions about how they would behave under certain circumstances.

Psychical or religious metaphysics. Peirce believed in God, and characterized such belief as founded in an instinct explorable in musing over the worlds of ideas, brute facts, and evolving habits—and it is a belief in God not as an actual or existent being in Peirce's sense of those words , but all the same as a real being. Peirce also argued that the will is free [] and see Synechism that there is at least an attenuated kind of immortality.

Physical metaphysics. Peirce held the view, which he called objective idealism , that "matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming physical laws". He held that fortuitous variation which he also called "sporting" , mechanical necessity, and creative love are the three modes of evolution modes called "tychasm", "anancasm", and "agapasm" [] of the cosmos and its parts.

He found his conception of agapasm embodied in Lamarckian evolution ; the overall idea in any case is that of evolution tending toward an end or goal, and it could also be the evolution of a mind or a society; it is the kind of evolution which manifests workings of mind in some general sense.

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He said that overall he was a synechist, holding with reality of continuity, [] especially of space, time, and law. Peirce outlined two fields, "Cenoscopy" and "Science of Review", both of which he called philosophy. Both included philosophy about science. In he arranged them, from more to less theoretically basic, thus: []. Peirce placed, within Science of Review, the work and theory of classifying the sciences including mathematics and philosophy.

His classifications, on which he worked for many years, draw on argument and wide knowledge, and are of interest both as a map for navigating his philosophy and as an accomplished polymath's survey of research in his time. Now logical terms are of three grand classes. They regard an object as it is in itself as such quale ; for example, as horse, tree, or man. These are absolute terms.

Peirce, But also see "Quale-Consciousness", , in CP 6. The very idea of probability and of reasoning rests on the assumption that this number is indefinitely great. Logic is rooted in the social principle. I define a Sign as anything which is so determined by something else, called its Object, and so determines an effect upon a person, which effect I call its Interpretant, that the latter is thereby mediately determined by the former.

My insertion of "upon a person" is a sop to Cerberus, because I despair of making my own broader conception understood. Consequently, to discover is simply to expedite an event that would occur sooner or later, if we had not troubled ourselves to make the discovery.

Consequently, the art of discovery is purely a question of economics. The economics of research is, so far as logic is concerned, the leading doctrine with reference to the art of discovery. Consequently, the conduct of abduction, which is chiefly a question of heuretic and is the first question of heuretic, is to be governed by economical considerations. I will also take the liberty of substituting "reality" for "existence. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist who founded pragmatism.

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Logic mathematics statistics [1] [2] philosophy metrology [3] chemistry experimental psychology [4] economics [5] linguistics [6] history of science. Philosophical logic metaphysics epistemology.

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Wright Mills. Peirce , volume x, page y. Cambridge, where Peirce was born and raised, New York City, where he often visited and sometimes lived, and Milford, where he spent the later years of his life with his second wife Juliette. The Peirce arrow , symbol for " neither Main article: Categories Peirce. Sign relation relational complex. Code Confabulation. Lexical Modality Representation. Salience Semiosis Semiosphere.

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Umwelt Value. Biosemiotics Cognitive semiotics. Morris Charles S. Structuralism Post-structuralism. Deconstruction Postmodernism. Main article: Semiotic theory of Charles Sanders Peirce. Main article: Inquiry. Hypothesis Abduction. See also: Inquiry. Main article: Classification of the sciences Peirce. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. George Herbert Mead. The Taming of Chance. A Universe of Chance. Cambridge University Press. Annals of Statistics. Physics Today. Bibcode : PhT Archived from the original on January 12, In his brilliant but troubled life, Peirce was a pioneer in both metrology and philosophy.

Peirce — : The first American experimental psychologist". Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. December Contemporary Pragmatism. In short, the need for a third category remains wholly in place. It is the acceptance of this third category that separates the realists , with whom Peirce aligned himself, from the nominalists. Whereas the nominalist claims that only individuals are real, the realist holds that relations are as real as the individual objects they relate. You need a first before you can relate it to a second, and you need two before you can introduce a third.

However, within experience, it also works the other way around, which must be the case if the three categories are indeed to be found in all phenomena. According to Peirce, you cannot have a first without also having a second, and you cannot have two without also having a third. Even when you conceive of something purely in isolation i. In short, Peirce denied that there was a category of fourthness, fifthness, etc. The three categories appear in almost anything Peirce wrote, to the point that he feared that people would think him a triadomaniac.

Instead, Peirce proclaimed that for most of his life he had tried to disprove the doctrine of the three categories, but that no matter what he did or how he reasoned, the doctrine was always confirmed. One triadic division of Peirce that has gained prominence within contemporary philosophy is that of icon, index and symbol.

A second division that did not quite come out as clean is the famous type-token distinction, which comes from the Peircean triad of tone, token and type. As far as philosophy goes, we have looked only at phenomenology, which studies phenomena as they appear in their immediacy, that is, in their firstness. The normative sciences, which come next, go a step further. They look at phenomena, not as they appear in their own right, but in their relation to certain ends, that is, in their secondness.

Traditionally, Peirce observed, these ends have been beauty, goodness and truth, and the disciplines that dealt with them are esthetics, ethics and logic. For Peirce, logic is thus very distinctly a normative science, as it studies the difference between good and bad reasoning good reasoning being reasoning that leads to truth.

Naturalism and wonder: Peirce on the logic of hume's argument against miracles

Central to this view is the idea that reasoning contains an element of self-control. When we reason, we deliberately submit ourselves to certain rules, which, like moral imperatives, we have the power to break. Instead of finding out how things truly are, we may choose to use our reasoning capacity to find support for what we prefer to believe, or for what we think others want to hear.

Pragmatism has been many things to many people, but for Peirce pragmatism was always strictly a maxim of logic. Philosophers, but others also, all too easily assume that they know the meaning of the concepts they use and much energy is wasted in endless discussions caused by conceptual unclarities. In very broad terms, it stipulates that we should anchor the concepts we use within conceivable practical action.

At the most basic level, an idea is clear when we recognize it whenever we come across it. For instance, the pawnbroker who can see instantly whether a piece of jewelry is made of real gold, has a clear idea of gold. The second grade of clearness is traditionally obtained by developing abstract criteria that unambiguously determine what is part of the concept and what is not. The scientific definition of gold is an example of this. On this definition, gold is defined as the element that has atomic number 79, meaning that it has exactly 79 protons in its nucleus.

This definition uniquely determines gold, as no other element has this atomic number. This second grade of clearness comes close to the traditional notion of clear and distinct ideas that is found in Descartes or Leibniz.

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A problem with definitions like this is that they are made entirely in the abstract. They do not provide any guidelines on how to determine whether an object we actually encounter falls under it; they do not even tell us whether they apply to anything at all. The definition of gold given above only stipulates that if something fits the criteria specified in the definition, then it is by definition made of gold. So far as we know, only humans have the former, but all animals have the latter. The behaviour simply shows a response to the stimulus of an index to a particular referent.

It is learning, of course, but with no need to invoke symbols. I think it is reasonable to investigate the hypothesis that some animals might be able to learn symbols. It is possible that bees can learn symbols. When you see one, you see the other. But symbols are more abstract. They do not require an immediate connection between an object and a form for effective use. Although Peirce always considered himself first and foremost a logician, his view of logic was that it was ultimately about correct reasoning and thus crucially relied upon his semiotics.

Semiotics is key to our understanding of culture, language, evolution, biology and many other domains of enquiry. For Peirce, humans know all things in one of three ways: by firstness , secondness or thirdness. In the opposition of two, each becomes clearer. An index is a sign of secondness. I have my eyes stimulated by a red thing in an experience of firstness.

But in comparing a red thing to other things, its individual identity becomes clearer. When I understand something well enough to generalise about it, my knowledge is of the level of thirdness. Signs of thirdness are symbols. Thus Peirce successfully derives his semiotics from his phaneroscopy, something that no other theory of signs has ever done, merely stipulating the nature of signs.

Pragmatism (William James and Charles Sanders Peirce)

Firstness, secondness and thirdness are crucial to all science. In linguistics, for example, the analysis of sound systems requires each of these ways of seeing. First a sound is recognised for some of its physical characteristics. Only by opposing this sound to other sounds, however, can we begin to more clearly understand the sound. Linguists would say that this is how one figures out the sound systems of understudied languages, and how children learn the sounds of their first language. The answer will vary. This systematisation of knowledge provides the perspective of thirdness on an object.

Peirce embedded his ideas about signs and phaneroscopy into an even larger system. Ultimately, it includes all of science. The failure of the Russell-Whitehead programme would not have surprised Peirce. However, Peirce did not take this to mean that truth is never possible. For Peirce, enquiry is a community activity, and it is unbounded by time, in principle.

Thus, truth is whatever the community of enquirers would agree to be the case by the end of enquiry — ie, by the end of time. Peirce also gave a great deal of thought to the role of chance in life and science, based in part on his reflections on Darwinism. He referred to this subtheory of his architectonics as tychism.

A further foundational contribution from Peirce was his doctrine of synechism , the idea that everything in the Universe is connected, that nothing can be understood in isolation, not even people. There is much more to say about Charley. We could look at all the modern philosophers, mathematicians, geologists, chemists and others who trace some of their most important working ideas, often the foundational assumptions of their fields, back to Peirce.

We could look at his example of fortitude and hard work in the face of adversity, poverty and rejection, and how alone, with almost no positive reinforcement at all, he singlehandedly created a body of work that is without precedent in the history of the Earth. But perhaps he would be most pleased to be remembered as one of us all, a part of who we are becoming and the world that is to be. He would be the last to fall for the vulgarity of vanity in his own accomplishments, recognising that we all, whatever our gifts and our training, are moving in this Universe of signs and chance together.

Did Peirce accomplish his goal of building a system like Aristotle? But consider the evidence. In his lifetime, Peirce published at least articles for a total of 12, published pages, publications that outstrip most scholars by far in quantity and quality.