The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce

The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce

Douglas R. Anderson
Jude Jones
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce
    Book Description:

    This volume explores the three normative sciences that Peirce distinguished (aesthetics, ethics, and logic) and their relation to phenomenology and metaphysics. The essays approach this topic from a variety of angles, ranging from questions concerning the normativity of logic to an application of Peirce's semiotics to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." A recurrent question throughout is whether a moral theory can be grounded in Peirce's work, despite his rather vehement denial that this can be done. Some essays ask whether a dichotomy exists between theoretical and practical ethics. Other essays show that Peirce's philosophy embraces meliorism, examine the role played by self-control, seek to ground communication theory in Peirce's speculative rhetoric, or examine the normative aspect of the notion of truth.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4625-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Cornelis de Waal and Krzysztof Piotr Skowroński
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    (pp. 1-25)
    Vincent Colapietro

    In this essay I address the topic of the normative thought of Charles S. Peirce, more precisely, several of the normative aspects of the Peircean project. But I do not intend to treat his nuanced conception of normative science. Rather the aspects I focus on have as much to do with the animating spirit of Peirce’s endeavor as any explicit doctrine (though in the case of one of these facets—his fallibilistic sensibility—we encounter on numerous occasions a formal articulation of its methodological significance). In him, the pragmatic sensibility is at once an imaginative, playful, reverential, innovative, and of...

    (pp. 26-43)
    Kelly A. Parker

    The following pages draw on Charles S. Peirce’s semiotics as a basis for understanding musical phenomena and indicate some advantages of a semiotic approach to musicology.¹ Much musicology simply seems irrelevant to what composers, performers, and engaged auditors actually do. My working assumption is that this is because the emphasis of such musicology on formal internal structures and theory simply fails to reflect the musician’s experience. As Naomi Cumming noted, much musicology is built on “a persistent, if unstated, belief that sounding quality and formal structure stand on two sides of an opposition, like secondary and primary qualities in the...

    (pp. 44-82)
    James Liszka

    Peirce came rather late in his career to the study of ethics. As a practicing scientist with a broad and deep understanding of philosophy, Peirce was primarily concerned with scientific knowing. He developed a system of logic and a theory of signs to explain how information, inference, and inquiry worked together to produce reliable knowledge. As Peirce recalls the situation in 1903, he realized, sometime around 1883, that logic or semeiotic was dependent on ethics, understood as a study of right conduct. Since logic concerned the correction of thinking toward a standard and was essentially concerned with normative claims about...

  8. FOUR WHOʹS AFRAID OF CHARLES SANDERS PEIRCE?: Knocking Some Critical Common Sense into Moral Philosophy
    (pp. 83-100)
    Cornelis de Waal

    In this essay I explore the potential contribution of Peirce’s theory of scientific inquiry to moral philosophy. After a brief introduction, I outline Peirce’s theory of inquiry. Next, I address why Peirce believed that this theory of inquiry is inapplicable to what he called “matters of vital importance,” the latter including genuine moral problems. This leaves us in the end with two options: We can try to develop an alternative way of addressing moral problems or we can seek to reconcile moral problems with scientific inquiry as described by Peirce. Though Peirce seems to argue for the former, I argue...

    (pp. 101-124)
    Rosa Maria Mayorga

    Charles Peirce did not seem to have a consistent view regarding ethics. His occasional remarks on this subject appear to be contradictory at best and cynical at worst. As a result, many have suggested that his comments on ethics, especially those expressed in the 1898 Cambridge Conference lectures, should be dismissed or ignored. I argue in this essay that Peirce’s views on ethics can be best understood by comparing them to his views on scholastic realism and nominalism. Furthermore, when analyzed in this way, Peirce’s observations on ethics can serve as the grounds for a robust moderate moral realism (a...

  10. SIX IMPROVING OUR HABITS: Peirce and Meliorism
    (pp. 125-148)
    Mats Bergman

    Although their perspectives and aims may differ greatly, most pragmatists tend to emphasize consequential practice rather than pure theory. Indeed, amelioristicinclination, a desire to improve the future lot of human beings in this world, could be identified as one defining characteristic of a pragmatist.¹ However, although this transformative conception of pragmatism easily encompasses thinkers such as William James, F. C. S. Schiller, John Dewey, C. Wright Mills, and Richard Rorty, it seems to exclude certain others—most conspicuously Charles S. Peirce, the putative father of the movement.

    In contrast to Dewey and Rorty, Peirce is manifestly skeptical of...

  11. SEVEN SELF-CONTROL, VALUES, AND MORAL DEVELOPMENT: Peirce on the Value-driven Dynamics of Human Morality
    (pp. 149-171)
    Helmut Pape

    What are values and what are values for? This is the crucial question for dealing with normativity, ideals, and values in the philosophy of C. S. Peirce.¹ A good starting point is the commonsense view that values are standards for evaluation, sorting and selecting objects, actions, and so on. However, I think we should look for a more general, comprehensive, and more specific concept of value. Such a concept, it seems to me, is implicit in the overall title of this series of conferences: “American and European Values.” This title entails that values play a role because they are generally...

    (pp. 172-184)
    Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen

    According to Peirce, normative sciences are the “most purely theoretical of purely theoretical sciences” (CP1.281, c. 1902,A Detailed Classification of the Sciences). At the same time, he takes logic to be a normative science. These two sentences form a highly interesting pair of assertions. Why is logic among the most purely theoretical sciences? What does it actually mean that logic is a normative science? In this essay I will answer these questions by addressing the question of why the normativity of logic is, as a matter of fact, based on rules.

    The statement that logic is a normative...

    (pp. 185-213)
    Mateusz W. Oleksy

    Traditionally, Peirce has been regarded as the father of the “consensus” theory of truth. On the received view, Peirce’s account of truth forms an integral component of hisscholastic realism, which explicates both truth and reality in terms of agreement at the ideal limit of inquiry. As one classical commentator puts it, “The real is what the community of thought construes it to be; consensus, common confession, is our one reliable interpretation of reality” (Thayer 1968, 124). Since on the received view, reality is identified by Peirce with “the immediate object of thought in a true judgment” (W2:472), and...

  14. TEN THE NORMATIVITY OF COMMUNICATION: Norms and Ideals in Peirce’s Speculative Rhetoric
    (pp. 214-230)
    Ignacio Redondo

    In a celebrated essay, the prominent communications scholar James Carey pointed out that beneath our ways of talking about communication there are two major conceptions constraining our communicative discourses and practices (Carey 1989, 14–15). The first is the “transmission view” of communication, which is commonly explained as the transmission of ideas from mind to mind; the other is the “ritual view” of communication, which, in Carey’s words, is not directed “toward the extension of messages in space but toward the maintenance of society” (Carey 1989, 18). In this view, communication is related to communion, conceived not as the mere...

  15. ELEVEN PEIRCEAN MODAL (AND MORAL?) REALISM(S): Remarks on the Normative Methodology of Pragmatist Metaphysics
    (pp. 231-258)
    Sami Pihlström

    The immediate purpose of this essay is to compare Charles S. Peirce’smetaphysics of the modalities—or rather, a “Peircean” approach to this metaphysical issue that can be derived from his defense ofsynechismandscholastic realism—to themodal realistviews defended by important twentieth-century and contemporary philosophers. This application of Peircean ideas to contemporary metaphysics of modality will eventually yield a pragmatic, critical evaluation of both. In particular, I question the strict dichotomy betweenmetaphysicsandethics, thus also questioning the separation betweentheoryandpracticethat Peirce himself, at least apparently, subscribed to in his 1898 Cambridge...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 259-290)
  17. References
    (pp. 291-308)
  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 309-312)
  19. Index
    (pp. 313-322)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 323-324)