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Peirce's Supposed Psychologism

Jeff Kasser

Department of Philosophy
Colby College
Waterville, ME 04901

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      Scholars frequently suggest that major movements within "analytic" and "Continental" philosophy share a common origin. Frege and Husserl were united in their vociferous opposition to psychologism in logic. A third hugely influential tradition in twentieth-century philosophy, American pragmatism, arose around the same time and was initiated by Peirce, a thinker as sophisticated about and concerned with the philosophy of logic and mathematics as either of his fellow founders. Furthermore, Peirce certainly offered some antipsychologistic statements that rival those of Frege or Husserl for hostility and impatience. In fact, Peirce's strong antipsychologistic statements precede those of his German contemporaries. Peirce's first public presentation of his logical and philosophical ideas occurred in 1865 when he was invited to give a series of University Lectures at Harvard on the logic of science. The very first substantive issue addressed in the first lecture is the importance of the distinction between psychological and unpsychological definitions of logic. Peirce calls psychological conceptions of logic "worse than erroneous, in the extreme," and insists that "[l]ogic has nothing at all to do with the operations of the understanding, acts of the mind, or facts of the intellect." Even such a statement, however, fails to do justice to the young Peirce's distaste for psychologism. The untenability of psychological conceptions of logic "has been repeatedly shown by the Kantians. But I will go a step further and say that we ought to adopt a thoroughly unpsychological view of logic" (W1 164). Judging from the 1865 Harvard Lectures and the 1866 Lowell Lectures, one would certainly conclude that antipsychologism was as important to the early Peirce's philosophical projects as it would soon prove to be to those of Frege and Husserl. Nevertheless, Peirce has not joined his fellow founders in an antipsychologistic triumvirate.
      Specialists in American philosophy often (and understandably) complain about the extent to which analytic and Continental philosophers have neglected Peirce's contributions. But inattention and ignorance do not sufficiently account for Peirce's exclusion from this powerful narrative about the beginnings of twentieth-century philosophy. Most Peirce scholars hold that his most influential papers, "The Fixation of Belief" and "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," both published in the late 1870's, are thoroughly psychologistic.1 Furthermore, a consensus holds that, by the 1890's if not earlier, Peirce explicitly repudiated the psychologism of his best-known papers. And this presents something of an interpretive puzzle. Peirce is not a thinker who, like Husserl, repented of his youthful psychologism before doing the work for which he is best known. Indeed, as the passages just quoted show, Peirce's early writings could hardly have been more scornful of psychological theories of logic. What happened to Peirce's antipsychologism in the 1870's and what are we to make of the papers written during that period? Are we to treat Peirce's most influential papers as an unrepresentative departure from his more typical and more considered antipsychologism? Does the textual and philosophical evidence support an interpretation which has Peirce abandoning his early hostility to psychologism, only to return with renewed hostility late in his career? Is Peirce more appropriately seen as part of the antipsychologistic movement of the late nineteenth century or as part of the robust naturalism which the antipsychologists chastened so effectively. Insofar as he combines aspects of both movements, does he do so out of confusion or insight?
      In fact, the story of Peirce's dealings with psychologism is more elaborate even than this sketch suggests, since his notion of logic departs from that shared by Frege, Husserl and most twentieth-century philosophers in a number of important ways. Peirce is primarily concerned with the logic of the natural sciences, and his objections to psychological treatments of logic are therefore directed mainly (though not exclusively) at accounts of inductive and abductive inference. Furthermore, Peirce's conception of logic encompasses "Speculative Grammar, or the general theory of the nature and meanings of signs, whether they be icons, indices, or symbols;" and "Methodeutic, which studies the methods that ought to be pursued in the investigation, in the exposition, and in the application of truth;" along with the more familiar science of "Critic, which classifies arguments and determines the validity and degree of force of each kind" (CP 1.192 [1903]). The breadth of Peirce's notion of logic exposes him to critiques from which other philosophers remain protected. So on the one hand, Peirce has seemed guilty of a naive psychologism, and on the other, his antipsychologism has appeared excessively ambitious. Peirce bars himself, as most logicians do not, from resting even methodological maxims on psychological premises. I want to defend a simple thesis in the face of all this. I will try to show that Peirce remained an antipsychologistic logician throughout his career and that he never repudiated FOB and HTMOIC as psychologistic.
The Case(s) for Psychologism

      Few commentators cite explicit textual evidence of psychologism in FOB. It is nevertheless reasonably clear what they have in mind. The main theses of the doubt-belief theory of inquiry, as presented in Section III of that paper, certainly appear to be psychological theses which are made to perform important logical and epistemological work. Peirce appears to argue from such claims as that "Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief, while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief in anything else" (W3 247, CP 5.372) to claims about the goal of inquiry. Since the irritation of doubt is the sole motive to inquiry, the only possible object of inquiry is the settlement of belief. Peirce's account of the operation of the social impulse, which figures so prominently in the argument of Section V against the specious methods of fixing belief, also seems to invite charges of psychologism. The language here is strikingly descriptive rather than normative. The social impulse condemns the method of tenacity only in the sense that the method "will be unable to hold its ground in practice" (W3 250, CP 5.378). The practicioner of the method of tenacity will in fact find, says Peirce, that other people think differently and this disagreement will have a really operative tendency to undermine his belief. Furthermore, this impulse happens to be too strong to be suppressed. Finally, Peirce goes so far, in Section V of FOB, as to claim that there could be no legitimate objection to the use of the method of tenacity, as long as it succeeds, and to suggest that the method is vindicated, in part, by its reliance on psychological theses. "A man may go through life, systematically keeping out of view all that might cause a change in his opinions, and if he only succeeds -- basing his method, as he does, on two fundamental psychological laws -- I do not see what can be said against his doing so" (W3 249, CP 5.377, emphasis mine). It must be admitted that these do not sound like the words of someone who had, a decade earlier, urged the importance of a thoroughly unpsychological view of logic.

      On the other hand, defenders of the standard view must admit that these statements hardly constitute a clear statement of psychologism. Nothing so far cited raises the issue of what makes a particular inference legitimate or illegitimate. Nor is there any suggestion that the laws of logic concern how human beings think, or that logical necessity is or involves a kind of psychological compulsion. In fact, in FOB itself, Peirce writes that the question of the validity of an inference "is purely one of fact and not of thinking. . . . It is not in the least the question whether, when the premises are accepted by the mind, we feel an impulse to accept the conclusion also" (W3 244, CP 5.365). Whether and in what sense FOB merits being called psychologistic is a tricky question, meriting much more careful attention than it has generally been given.
      The main reason why sympathetic commentators have been relatively casual about condemning FOB as psychologistic is that Peirce himself apparently endorsed such an interpretation. In later reflections about FOB and HTMOIC (which he generally thought of as a single paper in two parts), Peirce complains that:
    My original article carried this back to a psychological principle. The conception of truth, according to me, was developed out of an original impulse to act consistently, to have a definite intention. But in the first place, this was not very clearly made out, and in the second place, I do not think it satisfactory to reduce such fundamental things to facts of psychology. . . . [A]ll attempts to ground the fundamentals of logic on psychology are seen to be essentially shallow. (CP 5.28 [1903])
      An unpublished manuscript from around the same time makes a similar statement about the same two papers. Peirce admits that he "did not there show how I had myself derived [the pragmatic maxim] from a logical and non-psychological study of the essential nature of signs" (MS 137 [1904]).2 Given the implausibility usually attached to psychologism and Peirce's oft-professed hostility to basing logic on psychology, these comments have assumed an understandable prominence in the secondary literature. These remarks have been treated as conclusive evidence that Peirce convicted himself of psychologism, closing down the interpretive question of whether Peirce became a psychological logician, and opening up the question of how that could have happened.
      But, as with the apparent evidence of psychologism in FOB itself, this inference is much too quick. The 1903 passage seems to identify "an original impulse to act consistently, to have a definite intention" as the "psychological principle" operative in the paper. This is not the sort of claim that typically grounds accusations of psychologism. And Peirce does not make clear just what "fundamental things" might have been reduced to "facts of psychology" or how such a reduction might have gone. The 1904 passage merely states that FOB does not provide a non-psychological study of the essential nature of signs. But it is one thing to say that FOB and HTMOIC do not probe as deeply as they might have into the semiotic foundations of logic and quite another to accuse them of psychologism.
      More importantly, the precise target of Peirce's complaint has only occasionally been appreciated. Peirce is accusing himself of having grounded the pragmatic maxim on "a psychological principle." Few commentators concern themselves with the referent of "this" in the first sentence of the 1903 passage above. The sentence which precedes the quoted passage shows that Peirce is here concerned with the pragmatic maxim: "But how do we know that belief is nothing but the deliberate preparedness to act according to the formula believed?" The following passage, despite its harsh tone, makes it clear that the "psychologism" involved is little more than a matter of Peirce's acknowledged indebtedness to Alexander Bain.
[S]ince the principle of pragmaticism now usually goes with my name attached to it, and so far as I am aware, I was in fact the first definitely and with some accuracy to formulate it, it seems to me obligatory that I should replace by a scientific and logical proof the merely rhetorical defence I made of the principle in my two original articles in the Popular Science Monthly of Nov. 1877 and Jan. 1878, such being the only sort of argument which would have been at all admissable in a popular journal, to whose readers any defence of so broad a proposition would have been impenetrably abstruse if it had not begged the question, as mine did in being entirely built upon making a man's belief to consist in that proposition upon which he would be satisfied to base his conduct, in so far as that proposition should bear upon it. (MS 296, c. 1907-8)
      The pragmatic maxim follows so directly from Bain's account of belief as that upon which a person is prepared to act that Peirce fears having begged the question. And, though I will not go into the details here, Peirce takes himself to have used Bain's account of belief as a premise in his argument for the pragmatic maxim. So the "psychologism" that Peirce has so far acknowledged has no immediate bearing on the assessment of the validity or strength of arguments. The major indictment Peirce ventures against his 1877-78 papers is one of shallowness. Peirce did come to think that the pragmatic maxim required a deeper grounding than that provided by FOB and HTMOIC, but that is a far cry from any suggestion that these papers involve the methodological mistakes that he locates in theories which confuse the subject matter of logic and that of psychology or which make the validity of arguments depend on psychological facts. It remains possible that FOB and HTMOIC involve a position recognizable as psychologism, but it is at best misleading to suggest that these commonly-cited remarks by Peirce show that he recognized and repudiated the psychologism of his Popular Science Monthly papers.
      For an ordinary logician, the matter might be settled at this point. But Peirce's broad notion of logic requires him to treat the pragmatic maxim as a logical thesis, though it falls under methodeutic, rather than critic.3 The pragmatic maxim is a rule for the efficient conduct of inquiry; in order best to contribute to inquiry, we ought to elucidate propositions in terms of the conduct to which they would lead in various circumstances.4 And, as we will see, Peirce maintains that logical principles, including the pragmatic maxim, can be established without appealing to the results of any special science, including psychology. On the face of it, anyway, FOB and HTMOIC are incompatible with Peirce's antipsychologism, however little they resemble positions usually called psychologistic.
      Even more troublingly, Peirce does seem to locate a genuinely psychologistic implication of his position. The following passage raises the just-discussed worries about circularity, but it also accuses the Popular Science Monthly papers of slipping into a mistake Peirce sometimes refers to as logical hedonism.5
My original essay, having been written for a popular monthly, assumes, for no better reason than that real inquiry cannot begin until a state of real doubt arises and ends as soon as Belief is attained, that a "settlement of Belief," or, in other words, a state of satisfaction is all that Truth, or the aim of inquiry consists in. The reason I gave for this was so flimsy, while the inference was so nearly the gist of Pragmaticism, that I must confess the argument of that essay might with some justice be said to beg the question. (CP 6.485 [1908])6
      Though Peirce does not complain in this passage of a psychological grounding of a logical principle, it is clear that he has the "psychological" theses of FOB in mind. And the identification of the aim of inquiry with a state of satisfaction can reasonably be considered a version of psychologism. The outcome and proper conduct of inquiry, on such a view, would be determined by the feelings of some individual or group of inquirers. If this is correct, FOB and HTMOIC would run afoul, not only of Peirce's relatively demanding insistence that methodeutic cannot rely on psychological premises, but also of the very core of Peirce's antipsychologism. As we will see, the late Peirce saves his deepest scorn for those who would make logic a matter of feeling.
      Murray Murphey is one of the commentators who does not take the psychologism of FOB for granted but instead tries to establish the presence of a pernicious psychologism in the paper's argument. He essentially generalizes Peirce's complaint about logical hedonism, arguing that the doubt-belief theory makes logic dependent upon contingent facts including, but not limited to, the feelings of particular groups of inquirers. And such a position violates the very architectonic which motivates Peirce's antipsychologism. "[I]t is one of the most significant results of the doubt-belief theory," Murphey writes, "that the legitimacy of the architectonic principle itself is called into question. For if inquiry is relative to a particular state of evolution then logic is itself merely a means to the attaining of an end which may not be desirable in a further evolutionary stage."7 The shallowness of Peirce's 1870's grounding of logic is more pernicious than it appears, as Murphey sees matters. The problem is not merely that Peirce settled for psychological clay rather than semiotic bedrock; it is that this shallow grounding unavoidably relativizes, hedonizes and psychologizes logic.
In this theory, man is regarded as an organism seeking satisfactions, one of which is belief. Inquiry and reasoning therefore exist only as means to this end, and are fortunately reinforced by an innate proclivity which aids them in attaining their goal. But it is clear that on such a theory a significant change in the nature of either man or the environment can alter the desirability and utility of belief or the effectiveness of our ways of seeking it. Accordingly, the doubt-belief theory, in imbedding the theory of inquiry in a psychobiological context, has actually made the entire process of inquiry relative to a particular evolutionary adaptation of the permanence of which we have no guarantee. And it is quite conceivable that evolution could take a course which would make our current adaptation positively dysfunctional.8
      A "grounding" must, in order to avoid an unacceptable psychologism, trace the theory of inquiry to something deeper than a psychobiological context because such a context is insufficiently permanent for logical purposes. Granting (on the basis of the argument of "Fixation," presumably) that we can only sustain or be satisfied by beliefs that are logically defensible, this fortunate proclivity is the result of circumstances that might change. It could come to be the case that we were irresistibly drawn to believe bad principles of reasoning or to doubt good principles of reasoning.9 Though it merits a more detailed presentation than I can offer here, Murphey has provided the first explanation of what is genuinely psychologistic about FOB.
      Christopher Hookway locates a different strand of psychologism in FOB, though one intimately linked to Peirce's architectonic. Hookway stresses our need to see ourselves as autonomous inquirers, able to take responsibility for our inquiring behavior. We must see our logical activities as subject to rational self-control, and a psychological determination of the end of inquiry is incompatible with that self-control. The logician is concerned with standards of rationality rather than with human capacities for rationality, and for all that has been said so far, our inability to carry out inquiries in the absence of genuine doubt simply limits our capacity for rationality. "Peirce holds that any intrusion of psychological materials in the arguments employed in logic would threaten our rational self-control of our reasoning, weakening our ability to distinguish standards which simply seem right to us from those which, objectively, are right."10 Logic involves the deliberate criticism of reasoning, and criticism has a place only where control is in place. We cannot, then, grant that the aim of inquiry is psychologically determined by such factors as what our intellectual natures find satisfying. Such an admission would compromise the autonomy we claim when we undertake logical criticism.
      As Hookway realizes, this argument shows only that we cannot regard the aims and standards involved in logical deliberation as psychologically determined. It does not show that psychological information cannot have a place in logical reasoning. Hookway thinks that the late Peirce appeals to a related argument in order to establish the stronger result "that our autonomy as reasoners would be compromised if we used the special sciences at any stage of the investigation."11 Any premise from one of the special sciences which figured in logical reasoning would thereby get placed beyond logical criticism. And if such a premise was false, it could lead to the adoption of unsound principles of inquiry which could never be detected, since the false principle has been built into the principles of inquiry themselves. If that were the case, we could never be responsibly confident that we could discover the correct principles of reasoning, even if we assume the existence of discoverable, objectively correct principles. The late Peirce, then, must draw a distinction between claims which are subject to logical criticism and those which are not, and claims of the former kind can play no role at all in the late Peirce's logic.
      Thus, while most discussions in the secondary literature find a troublesome psychologism in FOB much too quickly and unproblematically, a serious case for an attribution of psychologism can be constructed. The case, however, is unstraightforward in a number of respects. Peirce's complaints about his own papers center on the attempt to provide a psychological basis for the pragmatic maxim, but this bears no immediate relationship to what is ordinarily meant by "psychologism." Murphey and Hookway discern more recognizably psychologistic implications of the doubt-belief theory, charging that the theory gives hostages to fortune in a manner incompatible with the objectivity and autonomy of logic. But even their discussions are more than a bit sketchy. Especially since we now realize that the charge of psychologism in the ordinary sense did not receive Peirce's clear endorsement, we need to examine Peirce's antipsychologistic writings to see whether they preclude the sort of position criticized by Murphey and Hookway. I will argue that they do preclude the sorts of psychologism attributed to Peirce, and that the antipsychologistic writings show why it was a mistake to attribute such a view to Peirce in the first place.
Antipsychologism, Early and Late

      That Peirce could have fallen into any position that he or we could recognize as psychologistic is a surprising prospect, requiring explanation. An examination of Peirce's early writings and lectures reveals a vociferously antipsychologistic thinker. The depth of the early Peirce's aversion to psychological conceptions of logic and the importance he attached to the issue are evidenced by the title of the book he intended to write later in 1865, using the Harvard lectures as his basis: An Unpsychological View of Logic to which are appended some applications of the theory to Psychology and other subjects.12 Peirce clearly thought psychologism a major impediment to the progress of logic.

All advanced logicians would probably agree that the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of logical research always have been and are now psychological difficulties.. . . If therefore it could be shown that the conditions of valid argument have no more to do with how we think than geometry has to do with how we intuite [sic.], so that logic should be extricated once and forever from all the entanglements of introspection, we might hope that its future progress however slow would be as free from the impediments of controvertible doctrine as that of mathematics itself. (W1 311 [1865])13
Here I can only hope to sketch enough of the early Peirce's fascinating (and problematic) conception of logic to show the magnitude of the interpretive puzzle raised by Peirce's supposed psychologism.
      As noted above, inductive and hypothetical inferences not only fall within the scope of Peirce's conception of logic, they exemplify it. Understanding Peirce's philosophy of logic requires seeing how a formal science of representations might be thought to govern inductive and hypothetical reasoning. A formal grounding of ampliative inference, Peirce maintains, will remove the main temptation to psychologistic treatments of logic.
[I]t seems to me that the anthropological theory has gained support principally from a belief that formal logic cannot give an account of the most important reasonings of any; those, I mean, by which we advance in science. I hope to show you in subsequent lectures that this is quite a mistake. That kind of inference, namely Induction and Hypothesis, or judging of the whole by a part, and of the cause from its effect, will be the special subject of this course. (W1 362 [1866])
It is particularly worth noting that the early Peirce is quite clear about logic's place within his architectonic. He has not of course developed his elaborate classification of the sciences, but he has a clear sense of what disqualifies a statement from serving as a premise in a logician's argument. While he admits that "some anthropological facts have a great bearing upon logic," he insists that "unfortunately they are facts which are supported only by the science of logic itself and cannot therefore constitute its foundation" (W1 362 [1866]). Both metaphysics and empirical science rely on logic, and so, given the strictures of Peirce's philosophical system, logic cannot be made to rest on metaphysics or the results of one of the special sciences like psychology.
      Most attempts to account for the validity of induction run afoul of Peirce's systematic ambitions by resting induction on metaphysical or anthropological facts. Of those who argue "that our knowledge of the goodness of God is our evidence of the truth of induction," Peirce remarks, "I think they forget that if the logic rests on Theology, theology cannot in its turn rest upon logic. One or the other must be known otherwise than on the testimony of the other" (W1 406 [1866]). Anthropological accounts of induction, in turn, either fail to establish the validity of induction at all, contenting themselves with remarking that we find induction a reasonable strategy (by, for instance, defining "reasonable" so that inductive inference gets included in the definition) or instead making the validity of induction depend on facts only ascertainable inductively, such as "that we know the future is like the past and the unseen like the seen because we have always found it to be so hitherto" (W1 408 [1866]). The common accounts of induction, then, either beg or ignore the question of its validity.
      Anthropological views share with metaphysical accounts this tendency to undermine our autonomy as reasoners. Anthropological views like Mill's "draw no line between an association of ideas which leads to truth, from some recondite cause, and that which does so upon a principle which we are aware of" (W1 410 [1866]). A dream may be derived (via the principles of the association of ideas, for example) from facts learned the previous day, but the dreamed-of belief, even if it happens to be true, is not arrived at reasonably. Without conscious endorsement, there can be inference in the psychological sense, but not in the logical sense.
Man requires to comprehend his own arguments; and unless he can comprehend them he is dashed from this lofty pinnacle to the level of an irrational machine. If he is impelled, he knows not upon what principle, without any conscious principle from one belief to another, he has no more reason than the pen with which he writes. (W1 406 [1866])
Long before FOB was published, Peirce clearly sees that logic requires the reflective, autonomous endorsement of principles of reasoning.14
      In his 1866 Lowell Lectures, Peirce distinguishes between two kinds of laws:
those which in a different state of things would continue to hold good and those which in a different state of things would not hold good. The former we call formal laws, the latter material laws. The formal laws do not depend on any particular state of things, and hence we say we have not derived them from experience; that is to say, any other experience would have furnished the premises for them as well as that which we have experienced; while to discover the material laws we require to have known just such facts as we did. (W1 422 [1866])
He undertakes to show that the validity of ampliative inference derives from formal, rather than material, laws. Induction rests on such vague claims as that "If we select a good many objects on the principle that they shall belong to a certain class and then find that they all have some common character, pretty much the whole class will generally be found to have that character" (W1 420 [1866]). Such vague claims are difficult to falsify, Peirce claims, because they do not so much assert as insinuate. As long as there is law at all, Peirce maintains, it will be the case that a sample is a guide to the character of the whole and that "identity goes with similarity in respects not chosen to make out the similarity," which is the principle on which hypothesis rests (W1 423 [1866]).
      Peirce supplements these considerations, which I have of course barely broached, with arguments for a rather grand claim that "the puzzle of the validity of scientific inference . . . is . . . entirely removed by a consideration of the laws of information" (W1 467 [1866]). Peirce offers curious and elaborate arguments involving the notions of comprehension and extension and the grouping of kinds and concludes that "[u]nless . . . we are to give up thinking altogether we must admit the validity of induction. But even to doubt is to think. So we cannot give up thinking and the validity of induction must be admitted" (W1 469 [1866]). For present purposes, Peirce's conclusions are more important than the arguments by which he establishes them. The validity of induction and hypothesis is not an empty, conceptual truth but nor does it depend on contingent facts about what reality is like. It depends, instead, on such facts as that there is a reality and that the process of symbolization is, in principle, adequate to that reality. Of course, inductive and hypothetical inferences are not valid in the sense of being truth-preserving. Instead, they are elements of a process that can be shown to be truth-conducive no matter what the world happens to be like.15 Needless to say, Peirce does not rely on any psychological premises in developing this account of the validity of probable inference.
      Peirce's virulent antipsychologism does allow for certain "subjective circumstances" to play a role in logical evaluation, however.16 As Isaac Levi has emphasized, Peirce's formal account of the validity of ampliative inference makes use of the information available to the inquiring agent. Peirce relativizes the intension and extension of a term to the information possessed by the inquirer. If we suppose that the Morning Star is the Evening Star, the statement "The Morning Star is identical with the Evening Star" conveys no more information than "The Morning Star is identical with the Morning Star."17 So far is Peirce from thinking that this reliance on the inquirer's state of information involves any sort of psychologism that he considers those (like Frege) who sharply separate the intensions of terms from issues of factual knowledge in league with psychologism.18 More famously, the early Peirce holds that logic demands certain moral commitments.19
[L]ogic rigidly requires, before all else, that no determinate fact, nothing which can happen to a man's self, should be of more consequence to him than everything else. He who would not sacrifice his own soul to save the whole world, is illogical in all his inferences, collectively. So the social principle is intrinsically rooted in logic. (W2 270-1, CP 5.354, EP1 81 [1869])
Peirce gives no inkling at all that he grows concerned about a threat of psychologism when he acknowledges that "the social principle" is rooted in logic.20 And it would be surprising if Peirce had failed to notice or failed to comment upon a change of mind about a matter he plainly considered so important.
      Peirce's late antipsychologism is much better known than his early position, and I will therefore give the late view an even sketchier presentation. While Peirce's thinking about these matters changed in a number of ways, I think it reasonably clear that the changes were of an evolutionary nature. His classification of the sciences provides a much clearer picture than his early work had of the sciences from which logic can borrow results and those from which it cannot. Still, one cannot, it seems to me, avoid being struck by the overall similarity between the early and late antipsychologisms. Peirce remains concerned with the circularity involved in resting logic on metaphysics or psychology, and his tone remains dismissive.
There are several sciences to which logicians often make appeal by arguments which would be circular if they rose to the degree of correctness necessary to that kind of fallacy. They are Metaphysical Philosophy, Psychology, Linguistics (of which they barely know that of the Aryan languages. . .), History, etc. (CP 8.242 [1904])
Metaphysics and the empirical sciences stand in need of logical criticism and cannot therefore figure in arguments for logical principles. Psychology stands in particular need of aid from logic.
It is almost universally held that logic is a science of thought (so far as it is a science at all), that thought is a modification of consciousness, and that consciousness is the object of the science of psychology. The effect of this, were it perceived, is to make logic logically dependent upon the very one of all the special sciences which most stands in logical need of a science of logic. (MS L75, Memoir 11, D 233 [1902], emphasis mine)
As he had argued in the 1860's, Peirce maintains that the logician studies publicly available products of thought, and not only can but should dispense with the study of the mind. "To explain the judgment in terms of the 'proposition' is to explain it by that which is essentially intelligible. To explain the proposition in terms of the 'judgment' is to explain the self-intelligible in terms of a psychical act, which is the most obscure of phenomena or facts" (CP 2.309n1 [1902]).
      The late Peirce's criticisms of Gefühl theories of logic bear especially closely on our discussion. This sort of psychologism, Peirce says, appeals not to the results of scientific psychology but to self-observation and other data of psychology. He associates this view particularly with the German logicians Sigwart and Schröder.
The appeal to direct consciousness consists in pronouncing certain reasoning to be good or bad because it is felt to be so. This is a very common method. Sigwart, for example, bases all logic upon our invincible mental repulsion against contradiction, or as he calls it, "the immediate feeling of necessity." Those who think it worth while to make any defence at all of this proceeding urge, in effect, that however far the logician may push his criticisms of reasoning, still, in doing so, he must reason, and so must ultimately rely upon his instinctive recognition of good and bad reasoning. Whence it follows that, in Sigwart's words, "every system of logic must rest upon this principle." (CP 2.209 [1901])
It is clear that Peirce (including, importantly, the Peirce of FOB) will want to resist this position, which smacks of the method of tenacity and the a priori method of fixing belief as well as of psychologism.
      Peirce replies that there can be no question of trusting a feeling, "[f]or we cannot trust a feeling as such, since a feeling as such neither is nor utters any proposition to be a subject of trust or distrust" (MS 283 86 [1905]). A feeling, for Peirce, is primarily an instance of firstness. As such, a feeling is the wrong sort of thing to claim authority over thought or conduct. Furthermore, if we are compelled to accept the deliverance of some feeling without being able to understand and endorse the belief thus forced upon us, we are not so much trusting as yielding. And since logic concerns itself with voluntary conduct, brute complusions have no place in logic. An instinct for rationality is thus placed outside of logic, not at its foundation. Finally, Peirce insists that reasoning proceeds under the expectation that there is a truth to be discovered, and that "it is of the very essence of this 'truth,' the meaning of the expectation, that the 'truth' in no wise depends upon what any man to whom direct appeal can be made may opine about that question. A fortiori, it does not depend upon whether I am satisfied or not" (CP 2.209 [1901]).
      But does FOB not make logic depend on feeling in ways similar to those advocated by Sigwart and his followers? As we saw earlier, Peirce's own view (e.g. that inquiry ceases whenever the inquirer is perfectly satisfied with a proposition) looks uncomfortably close to a kind of "logical hedonism" of the sort he associated with psychological logicians. Peirce seems untroubled by this apparent similarity and in fact brings some of the resources of FOB to bear on his answer to Sigwart. Peirce uses the doubt-belief theory to deny that a feeling of satisfaction can have any logical authority.
[T]here can be no genuine criticism of a reasoning until that reasoning is actually doubted; and no sooner is it actually doubted than we find that consciousness has revoked her dictum in its favour, if she ever had any. . . . A man cannot criticize every part of his reasoning, since he cannot criticize the act of reasoning he is performing in the the criticism, it is true. But he can criticize steps whose validity he doubts; and in doing so, ought to consider in what characters the validity of reasoning consists, and whether the reasoning in question possesses those characters. (CP 2.209 [1901])
While a full presentation of the relevant data would burst the bounds of this paper, we are, I think, in a position to suspect that Peirce never regarded the doubt-belief theory as psychologistic. He deploys these "psychological" theses in the very passages which articulate his antipsychologism. If we can explain how this can be the case, we will be in a position to attribute to Peirce a broadly unified antipsychologism, consistent with the naturalistic emphases of the 1870's. Clearly this seems preferable to an interpretation which has Peirce quietly slipping into and then out of psychologism, despite his passionate early and late denunciations of such positions.
Continuity and Chronology

      Christopher Hookway is the only scholar who has attempted to explain how Peirce could have become anything like a psychological logician in the 1870's. Most people who have written about psychologism in Peirce seem utterly unaware of the early antipsychologism and thus do not begin to see the severity of the developmental puzzle the standard view faces. Hookway attributes to the Peirce of the 1870's a view different enough from what preceded it to merit being called psychologistic, but closely enough related to its predecessor to constitute a well-motivated and intelligible shift, even given the strength of the early Peirce's antipsychologism. I, of course, think there is a simpler and more plausible alternative to Hookway's nuanced and elaborate interpretation. Hookway reads Peirce as settling for a naturalistic basis for inquiry when he was unable to provide a more fundamental grounding. "The apparent psychological turn in Peirce's writings in the later 1870's may not then indicate a fundamental shift in his position. Bain's theory of belief and the doubt-belief model of inquiry may have persuaded him of the correctness of some philosophical views which he could not yet reconcile with his underlying philosophical commitments."21 21 While this view has much to recommend it, I do not think it adequately accounts for a turn towards the psychologism Peirce so clearly detested.
      Peirce's mature account of logic's place among the sciences shows that he has no need to abandon either the argument of FOB or his antipsychologism. In the Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, Peirce articulates his conception of philosophy in terms taken from the doubt-belief theory of inquiry.
[B]y Philosophy I mean that department of Positive Science, or Science of Fact, which does not busy itself with gathering facts, but merely with learning what can be learned from that experience which presses in upon every one of us daily and hourly. It does not gather new facts, because it does not need them, and also because new general facts cannot be firmly established without the assumption of a metaphysical doctrine; and this, in turn, requires the cooperation of every department of philosophy; so that such new facts, however striking they may be, afford weaker support to philosophy by far than that common experience which nobody doubts or can doubt and which nobody ever even pretended to doubt except as a consequence of a belief in that experience so entire and perfect that it failed to be conscious of itself, just as an American who has never been abroad fails to perceive the characteristics of Americans[.] (CP 5.120, HL 207-208 [1903])22
Logic is a branch of the cenoscopic science of philosophy. Philosophy has no need of and can make no use of the novel observations of the special sciences. Important branches of cenoscopy, however, might not strike a twentieth-century reader as philosophical. A kind of rudimentary science of dynamics serves as an exemplar of cenoscopy for Peirce.
Now it is a circumstance most significant for the logic of science, that this science of dynamics, upon which all the physical sciences repose, when defined in the strict way in which its founders understood it, and not as embracing the law of the conservation of energy, neither is nor ever was one of the special sciences that aim at the discovery of novel phenomena, but merely consists in the analysis of truths which universal experience has compelled every man of us to acknowledge. Thus, the proof by Archimedes of the principle of the lever, upon which Lagrange substantially bases the whole statical branch of the science, consists in showing that that principle is virtually assumed in our ordinary conception of two bodies of equal weight. Such universal experiences may not be true to microscopical exactitude, but that they are true in the main is assumed by everybody who devises an experiment, and is therefore more certain than any result of a laboratory experiment. (CP 8.198, CN3 230 [1905])
      The pressing intellectual need, however, is for the cultivation of the psychical branch of philosophy. Peirce explicitly conceives of pragmatism along such lines. "That Pragmatism of which so much has been said of late years is only an endeavor to give the philosophy of common sense a more exact development, especially by emphasizing the point that there is no intellectual value in mere feeling per se but that the whole function of thinking consists in the regulation of conduct" (CP 8.199, CN3 231 [1905]). Pragmatism is clearly a claim of cenoscopic psychics and is clearly opposed to any doctrine which makes logic depend on feeling.
      While my argument could be made in terms of mathematics and phenomenology, the first two sciences to which logic can appeal, we do not need quite so much structure at this point. Peirce explicitly insists that claims about belief and doubt are among the facts about everyday experience, minds, and signs to which philosophy (especially logic) appeals. "[T]here are some things in regard to which the logician is not free to suppose that they are or are not[,] but acknowledges a compulsion upon him to assert the one and deny the other. Thus, the logician is forced by positive observation to admit that there is such a thing as doubt, that some propositions are false, etc."23 Of course, any claim that ordinary experience establishes the existence of such things as doubt must be interrogated. The just-quoted passage continues: "But with this compulsion comes a corresponding responsibility upon him not to admit anything which he is not forced to admit" (CP 3.428 [1896]). Nevertheless, Peirce is entirely confident that any scientific intelligence will grant his claim that doubt exists and that the mind struggles to escape it. The existence of doubt and its essentially aversive nature are facts forced upon the logician by positive observation.
      There is also significant evidence that Peirce thought the operation of the social impulse to be establishable on the basis of uncontroversial, everyday experience. In explicating his account of proof (which applies to matters of fact; in mathematics, Peirce used the term "demonstration") as grounding in indubitable experience, Peirce writes, "When I say indubitable, I mean of course indubitable today for me. Nothing can be imagined more satisfactory than that, being indubitable to me, it is equally so to you, for your doubting it would cause me to do so."24 Though Peirce does not explicitly claim that doubt's ability to spread is a bit of indubitable experience, the confidence and casualness with which he makes the assertion suggests that he takes himself to be dealing with an utterly unproblematic matter of fact. Similarly, Peirce follows a discussion of vague, indubitable beliefs such as "there is an order in nature" with the simple assertion that "Could I be assured that other men candidly and with sufficient deliberation doubt any proposition which I regard as indubitable, that fact would inevitably cause me to doubt it, too" (CP 5.509 [c. 1905]) This confident talk of inevitability suggests a result which needs no argument or experiment to support it. It would be hasty to conclude on the basis of this evidence that the late Peirce took the doubt-belief theory to be a straightforward result of reflection upon indubitable, generally-available experience. In particular, there is reason to suspect that it is only because of certain aesthetic and ethical commitments that the social impulse operates on an inquirer. Nevertheless, it does seem reasonable to suppose that Peirce took the existence and operation of the social impulse, like that of doubt and belief, to be a philosophical result, grounded in results prior to and more secure than the special sciences.
      It must be admitted that Peirce sometimes refers to the study of generally available data about the mind under the rubric of "psychology,"25 but in less casual passages he makes it quite clear that he considers the difference between the cenoscopic and idioscopic studies of the mind of the first importance. The following passage follows a discussion of the difference between "positive psychology" and "metaphysical psychology." I think it is clear that even when Peirce is willing to call claims about the mind grounded in everyday, indubitable experience "psychological" claims, we are to place great weight on the distinction between philosophical and scientific psychology.
We must distinguish between results which depend upon the validity of the scientific method of psychology -- scientific discoveries -- and those rough facts about the mind which are open to everybody's observation, and which no sane man dreams of calling into question. As a matter of fact, it is upon these latter facts, and upon a series of similar facts about the outer world, that every man actually and really bases, first, his general metaphysics, and then his metaphysics of the soul. Even modern conceptions of the nature of intelligence, although facts of physiology have aided their development, can be more logically defended without resort to anything but those general facts about which nobody any longer ever simulates a doubt, and never did do more than simulate one. (CN 3 49 [1901])
Similar passages make explicit Peirce's position that the doubt-belief theory is itself a claim of philosophical psychology, not a deliverance of the special science of psychology.
Under an appeal to psychology is not meant every appeal to any fact relating to the mind. For it is, for logical purposes, important to discriminate between facts of that description which are supposed to be ascertained by the systematic study of the mind, and facts the knowledge of which altogether antecedes such study, and is not in the least affected by it; such as the fact that there is such a state of mind as doubt, and the fact that the mind struggles to escape from doubt. (CP 2.210 [1902])
It is thus the logician, not the psychologist, whose task it is to recognize the existence, nature, and importance of belief and doubt, insofar as such claims can be supported by generally available experience. Peirce typically marks the distinction between the facts about mind which can serve to ground logic and those which are results of the special science of psychology by calling the former "psychical" and the latter "psychological" statements.
The reader may wonder why I do not confine myself to psychical semiosis, since no other seems to be of much importance. My reason is that the too frequent practice, by those logicians who do not go to work [with] any method at all [or who follow] the method of basing propositions in the science of logic upon results of the science of psychology -- as contradistinguished from common-sense observations concerning the workings of the mind, observations well-known even if little-noticed, to all grown men and women, that are of sound minds -- that practice is to my apprehension as unsound and insecure as was that bridge in the novel of "Kenilworth" that, being utterly without any sort of support, sent the poor Countess Amy to her destruction . . . . Those logicians continually confound psychical truths with psychological truths, although the distinction between them is of that kind that takes precedence over all others as calling for the respect of anyone who would treat the strait and narrow road that leadeth unto exact truth. (CP 5.485 [1907]; also see CP 4.117 [1893])
So much, I think, for Peirce's own complaint about his use of "psychological" theses in FOB and HTMOIC. While Peirce recognized a serious problem with the argument of these papers -- he did not think the metaphysicians among his opponents could be expected to agree to Bain's reductive account of belief, for instance -- this complaint does not show FOB and HTMOIC to have run afoul of Peirce's antipsychologism.
      We have just seen, then, that one issue discussed under the rubric of "Peirce's psychologism" represents a real problem, but not a psychologistic one. The other issue, I suggest, involves genuine psychologism, but is not a real problem for Peirce because the view in question was never his. The psychologism of which Murphey accuses FOB involves treating "our proclivity to seek settled belief [as] a mere adaptive result of evolution."26 Since evolution depends on contingent circumstances, this proclivity could become dysfunctional. Murphey rightly gestures at the late Peirce's evolutionary cosmology as a response to this problem, but we need not venture so far into Peirce's metaphysics to handle the difficulty.27 Peirce need not appeal to the cosmology to claim that it is no "mere" adaptation that we find belief satisfying and doubt aversive. He thinks the workings of doubt and belief all but conceptually involved in the notion of a scientific intelligence, a being which can learn from experience. No being which did not find doubt aversive could seek the truth, and doubt is a crucial mechanism by which experience impinges on and updates beliefs. But Peirce is also not offering a mere conceptual truth; these workaday facts about the operation of the mind are grounded in indubitable experience. Such a grounding is as solid as we could possibly hope for and is incompatible with treating our nature as believers and doubters as a result of quirks in our evolutionary history . Peirce would not take seriously the possibility that we (holding constant our nature as potential inquirers) could have evolved in a way that did not involve a proclivity to seek settled belief. He would not agree that changes in us or our environment "can alter the desirability and utility of belief."
      Crucially, Peirce would also resist Murphey's claim that the doubt-belief theory's account of cognitive motivation departs substantially from that of the later position. "In so far as there is purpose in the doubt-belief theory," Murphey writes, "it is either negative -- the removal of irritation -- or hedonistic -- the pleasure of belief -- as opposed to the quasi-aesthetic purpose of agapasm."28 Peirce builds an element of thirdness into the notion of pleasure; pleasure and pain are not primarily qualities of feeling. Peirce notes that he finds himself "unable to recognize with confidence any quality of feeling common to all pains; and if I cannot I am sure it cannot be an easy thing for anybody" (CP 5.112, HL 198 [1903]). Peirce includes a judgmental component in his notion of pleasure. Pain mainly consists in "a Struggle to give a state of mind its quietus" while pleasure mainly involves "a peculiar mode of consciousness allied to the consciousness of making a generalization, in which not Feeling, but rather Cognition is the principal constituent" (CP 5.113; HL 198 [1903]).29 We do not approve because we are pleased but rather are pleased because we approve. As a discussion of the normative science of Esthetics would bring out, satisfaction is largely cognitive; grounding logic in esthetic satisfaction is in fact quite opposed to logical hedonism.30
      There is important evidence that this category-derived distinction was present in FOB all along. We need to distinguish two distinctions between doubt and belief drawn in that paper. Peirce claims, first, that there is a "dissimilarity between the sensation of doubting and that of believing" (W3 247, CP 5.370, EP1 114 [1877]). This difference concerns doubt and belief as feelings, as firsts, and it does little work in the argument. After noting a second difference, the fact that belief guides action while doubt does not, Peirce adds emphasis. "Nor must we overlook a third point of difference. Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid or to change to a belief in anything else" (W3 247, EP1 114, CP 5.372 [1877]). Peirce thus goes to some trouble to distinguish the uneasy and dissatisfied nature of doubt and the calm and satisfactory nature of belief from the way these states feel. When Peirce calls doubt "irritating" he is emphasizing what doubt does, not how it feels. Even in 1878, it is quite clear that Peirce sees the functional nature of doubt as essential; the feelings associated with it are subject to a certain amount of variation. In HTMOIC, Peirce complains of those who distort the aim of thought for "purposes of pleasure."
The action of thinking may incidentally have other results [than the production of belief]; it may serve to amuse us, for example, and among dilettanti it is not rare to find those who have so perverted thought to the purposes of pleasure that it seems to vex them to think that the questions upon which they delight to exercise it may ever get settled; and a positive discovery which takes a favorite subject out of the arena of literary debate is met with ill-concealed dislike. This disposition is the very debauchery of thought. (W3 263, CP5.396, EP1 129 [1878])31
Whether one will find doubt disturbing in the right sort of way depends on one's ethical commitments. Satisfaction figures prominently in the doubt-belief theory, but not a brute, psychological or hedonistic satisfaction. FOB and HTMOIC are at least compatible with the late Peirce's claim view that we take a kind of responsibility for our satisfactions by subjecting them to aesthetic scrutiny. So we have here the beginnings of an argument that the 1877-78 papers avoid the worry about psychologistic compromises of autonomy, along with those of impermanence and relativity.
      I thus want to suggest that, though FOB and HTMOIC can be read as quite robustly continuous with Peirce's early and late antipsychologisms. In FOB, Peirce characterizes the existence and nature of doubt and belief as "facts which we must already know before we can have any clear conception of reasoning at all," and this sounds, against the background I have sketched, like a statement of a common thread running throughout Peirce's career. Logic depends, not on any special science but on certain very vaguely characterized facts accessible to general observation. This view can be found in the early antipsychologism, in the "Illustrations of the Logic of Science," and in the late antipsychologism. Similarly, suggestions that logic presupposes certain ethical commitments crop up throughout Peirce's career. A few passages show how Peirce wanted FOB and HTMOIC to be read so that they escape a vulgar, psychologistic or hedonistic naturalism.
Now the theory of Pragmaticism was originally based, as anybody will see who examines the papers of November 1877 and January 1878, upon a study of that experience of the phenomena of self-control which is common to all grown men and women; and it seems evident that to some extent, at least, it must always be so based. (CP 5.442 [1905])32
      Peirce's considered view is that FOB and HTMOIC are compatible with his antipsychologism and his antihedonism. Logic is a self-controlled inquiry prior to the special sciences. FOB and HTMOIC are "occupied with showing that, if Truth consists in satisfaction, it cannot be any actual satisfaction, but must be the satisfaction that would ultimately be found if the inquiry were pushed to its ultimate and indefeasible issue." The naturalism that characterizes these papers is not a naive or vulgar naturalism. Peirce has a consistent and consistently intriguing contribution to discussions of the role of the special sciences in the theory of inquiry.


I refer to Peirce's writings by way of the following abbreviations:

CP      Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, volumes 1-6 edited by C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss, volumes 7-8 edited by A. Burks (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931-58). "CP 1.105" indicates Volume 1, paragraph (not page) 105.
MS      Peirce manuscripts in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Manuscript numbers come from Robin's catalogue (see bibliography). Reference is of the form: MS followed by the page number. Page numbers are those stamped on the manuscript pages by the Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism. An "L" indicates a manuscript from Peirce's correspondence. "MS 440 105" indicates Robin manuscript 440, page 105. I refer to MS L75 as it appears on the Arisbe website:
N      Charles S. Peirce: Contributions to The Nation, compiled and annotated by K. L. Ketner and J. E. Cook (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1975-1979). "N1 105" indicates Volume 1, page 105.
W      Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, edited by M. Fisch, et al. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982). "W1 105" indicates Volume 1, page 105.


Aach, John. 1990. "Psychologism Reconsidered: A Re-Evaluation of the Arguments of Frege and Husserl." Synthese 85:315-338.

Anderson, Douglas R. 1995. Strands of System: The Philosophy of Charles Peirce. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press.

Brockhaus, Richard R. 1991. "Realism and Psychologism in 19th Century Logic." Philosophy and Phenomenological Reseach 51:493-524.

Buchler, Justus. 1966. Charles Peirce's Empiricism. New York: Octagon Books, Inc.

Carl, Wolfgang. 1994. Frege's Theory of Sense and Reference: Its Origins and Scope. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Colapietro, Vincent M. 1989. Peirce's Approach to the Self: A Semiotic Perspective on Human Subjectivity. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Cussins, Adrian. 1987. "Varieties of Psychologism." Synthese 70 123-154.

DoughertyCharles, J. "C. S. Peirce's Critique of Psychologism," Two Centuries of Philosophy in America, edited by Peter Caws. Oxford: Basil Blackwell (APQ Library of Philosophy).

Fisch, Max H. 1986. Peirce, Semeiotic, and Pragmatism: Essays by Max H. Fisch, edited by K. L. Ketner and C. J. W. Kloesel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Flower, Elizabeth and Murphey, Murray. 1977. A History of Philosophy in America. New York: Putnam.

Frankfurt, Harry G. 1958. "Peirce's Account of Inquiry." Journal of Philosophy 55:588-592.

Gallie, W. B. 1966. Peirce and Pragmatism. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Goudge, Thomas A. 1950. The Thought of C. S. Peirce. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Hookway, Christopher J. 1985. Peirce. London: Routledge.

------. 1988. "Reference, Causation, and Reality." Semiotica 69:331-348.

------. 1991. "Critical Common-Sensism and Rational Self-Control." Noûs 24:397-412.

------. 1993a. "Belief, Confidence and the Method of Science." Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 29:1-32.

------. 1993b. "Mimicking Foundationalism: on Sentiment and Self-control." European Journal of Philosophy 1:156-174.

------. Forthcoming. "Avoiding Circularity and Proving Pragmaticism."

Kent, Beverly E. 1987. Charles S. Peirce: Logic and the Classification of the Sciences. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Levi, Isaac. 1995. "Induction According to Peirce," in Peirce and Contemporary Thought, edited by K. L. Ketner. New York: Fordham University Press.

------. 1997. "Inference and Logic According to Peirce," in The Rule of Reason: The Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce, edited by Jacqueline Brunning and Paul Forster. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Loeb, Louis E. 1998. "Sextus, Descartes, Hume, and Peirce: On Securing Settled Doxastic States." Noûs 32:205-230.

Meiland, Jack W. 1979. "Psychologism in Logic: Husserl's Critique." Inquiry 19:325-339.

Meyers, Robert G. 1986. Review of Hookway 1985. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 21:327-338.

Misak, Cheryl J. 1991. Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Murphey, Murray G. 1993. The Development of Peirce's Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

Passmore, John. 1957. A Hundred Years of Philosophy. London: Hammondsworth.

Potter, Vincent G. 1967. Charles S. Peirce on Norms & Ideals. Worcester: University of Massachusetts Press.

Robin, Richard S. 1964. "Peirce's Doctrine of the Normative Sciences," in Studies in the Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce (Second Series), edited by E. C. Moore and R. S. Robin. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

------. 1967. Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Savan, David. 1964 "Peirce's Infallibilism," in Studies in the Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce (Second Series), edited by E. C. Moore and R. S. Robin. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

------. 1981. "The Unity of Peirce's Thought," in Pragmatism and Purpose: Essays in Honor of T. A. Goudge, edited by L. Sumner, J. Slater, and F. Wilson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Scheffler, Israel. 1974. Four Pragmatists: An Introduction to Peirce, James, Mead, and Dewey. New York: Humanities Press.

Singer, Marcus G. 1985. "Truth, Belief, and Inquiry in Peirce." Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 21:383-406.

Skagestad, Peter. 1981. The Road of Inquiry: Charles S. Peirce's Pragmatic Realism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sluga, Hans. 1980. Frege. London: Routledge.

Thompson, Manley. 1953. The Pragmatic Philosophy of Charles S. Peirce. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Willard, Dallas. 1972. "The Paradox of Logical Psychologism: Husserl's Way Out." American Philosophical Quarterly 9:94-100.

(Click note number to return to text above)

1 I will refer to these papers as FOB and HTMOIC from now on.

2 Quoted in Misak, p. 16 fn 20.

3 See Fisch, p. 375.

4 Hookway, "Avoiding Circularity and Proving Pragmaticism," has a helpful discussion of this point.

5 See, for example, CP 5.559 (c. 1906).

6 Also see CP 5.27 (1903).

7 Murphey, p. 330

8 Murphey, p. 326.

9 In her new edition of the 1903 Harvard Lectures, Patricia Turrisi makes a similar point. "Though it would have been legitimate in 1903 to note that doubt creates a sensation that an inquirer wishes to terminate, it would still have been a point about human psychology. The termination of doubt could only result psychologically in yet another psychological sensation -- relief. But in 1877, the link (and, by implication, the difference) between the feeling of doubt, or relief from doubt, and the logical character, good or bad, of the sources of doubt, was not yet Peirce's concern" (HL 90).

10 Hookway 1985, pp. 54-55.

11 Hookway 1985, p. 55.

12 The draft of the book is at W1, pp. 305-321.

13 Also see W1 256-258 (1865).

14 Peirce is not, of course, claiming that only logicians reason. Reasoning requires conscious endorsement of the principle of inference involved, but it does not require a theory of what makes the principle reasonable.

15 Such issues as whether and in what sense induction can be said to be self-correcting clearly figure in discussions of the validity of induction but would take us too far afield.

16 The phrase "subjective circumstances" is from a later passage but one which closely resembles the works of the 1860s. See W4 410 (1883).

17 See W1 275-277 and Levi 1997.

18 "Logicians have hitherto left the doctrine of extension and comprehension in a very imperfect state owing to the blinding influence of a psychological treatment of the matter. They have, therefore, not made this distinction [i.e. that between the intension of a term relative to our actual knowledge and the intension of the term were our knowledge perfect] and have reduced the comprehension of a term to what it would be if we had no knowledge of fact at all" (W1 462 [1866]). Peirce of course does not have Frege in mind in 1866 (I do not know of any reason to think that Peirce ever read Frege). Presumably, Peirce is expressing concern that a failure to make this distinction would lead to a psychological account of ampliative, not explicative inference.

19 It is not obvious that Peirce holds that logical validity demands these sentiments. The early Peirce held that logical laws are descriptive and inviolable laws of symbolization, not normative laws of thought. Accordingly, one cannot violate laws of logic in one's reasoning. So the mind conforms to the laws of valid inference in all reasonings, and yet some reasonings are fallacious, i.e. condemned by logic. "In every fallacy . . . possible to the mind of man, the procedure of the mind conforms to the principle of valid inference" (W2 223, CP 5.282, EP1 38 [1868]).

20 Someone might well argue that Peirce's view became psychologistic between 1866 and the Journal of Speculative Philosophy papers of 1868-9. I cannot respond to such a suggestion here, except by countersuggesting that many aspects of Peirce's positions "hang together" in discernable ways and that Peirce's silence on a matter of such importance to him provides some evidence of doctrinal continuity.

21 Hookway 1988, p. 334.

22 Also see CP 3.428 [1896], where Peirce writes that philosophy restricts itself to ordinary observations of everyday life, and then ventures a stronger claim. "I would even grant that philosophy . . . confines itself to such observations as must be open to every intelligence which can learn from experience."

23 One might have thought that mathematical reasoning, in Peirce's sense, can establish that some propositions, namely contradictions, are false.

24 MS L133 (1905) quoted from Fisch, p. 363.

25 See CP 6.20-22 (1891) and CP 7.418 (1893). Also see, of course, CP 5.28, the crucial passage in which Peirce says that FOB traces the pragmatic maxim back to a psychological principle. More on this passage below. Also see Kent, p. 112 for references to Peirce's tendency, during the early 1890's, to call some of his phenomenological categories "psychological."

26 Murphey, p. 356.

27 Similarly, the phenomenological vindication of the categories figures in Peirce's response but can be left out of our discussion.

28 Murphey, p. 357. Agapasm is the doctrine of evolution by final causation which Peirce favors. Murphey thinks that the doubt-belief theory is closer to anancasm, development by mechanical necessity.

29 For similar statements from Peirce see CP 1.376 (c. 1885) and CP 1.594-5 (1903). Also see Kent pp. 159-160 for a quote from a 1910 unpublished manuscript which seems (the quote is quite brief) to regard pain as simply a quality of feeling. CP 1.333 (c. 1905) and CP 5.552 (1906) seem to treat pleasure, along with pain, as a phenomenon in which secondness predominates. Rather than liking pleasure to reasonableness or generalization, Peirce there identifies pleasure with attractiveness as he had pain with repulsiveness.

30 Similarly, "[t]o say that morality, in the last resort, comes to an esthetic judgment is not hedonism -- but is directly opposed to hedonism" (CP 5.111, HL 197 [1903]).

31 Similar passages recur throughout Peirce's writing. Also see CP 5.372n2 (1893), CP 5.423 (1905), and CP 5.520 (c. 1905).

32 Also see MS L75, quoted at HL 27-28.

END OF:  Jeff Kasser, "Peirce's Supposed Psychologism"


This is a pre-print version, with minor modifications, of the winning paper in the annual Peirce Essay competition of 1998, sponsored by the Charles S. Peirce Society for recognition of work of high quality by younger scholars, usually but not necessarily based on their dissertation research, read at the December 1998 meeting of the Peirce Society (held at the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, Washington, D.C.). A version of this paper may appear subsequently in the Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, according to the policy governing the award for the paper. The URL (i.e. the on-line address) of this document appears at the bottom of this page. The URL for the Arisbe website is:

This document posted April 5, 1999
Last modified April 5, 1999


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