The Presence of Normative Rules as Pre-Conditions for
In the Epistemology of
Charles S. Peirce:
Lessons from the Experiences of Secondness
Philip Joseph Jacobs
Source: DAI, 47, no. 03A, (1986): 1041
The goal of the dissertation has been to collect
Peirce's scattered comments on the proper attitude of the true scientist and to
place them within a coherent epistemological context. My central tenet is that
Peirce adopted an interactionist epistemology that emphasized the informative
interchange between the semiotic system of the mind and the external component
in experience. The normative rules emerge as second-order precautions adopted
after consideration of the history of past errors.
A central exegetical
chapter deals with Peirce's frequent, but once again scattered, comments on the
importance of such errors and the second-order realization of ignorance to
which they give rise. Such experiences
serve as prima facie evidence for assuming that the mind must be struggling
with a set of relations not of its own making. Since errors, and their
recursive experience of success, presuppose a state of anticipation in
consciousness, I explain Peirce's theory of consciousness as the proleptic
signification of the future. The comparisons of what was anticipated with the perceptual
judgments that actually arise in the experience of secondness are the source of
new information, expecially in those situations following the form of modus tollens.
I argue that these rules
for epistemic prudentia emerge a posteriori, a claim which differs markedly
from Karl-Otto Apel's a priori argument against the anglo-analytic continuation
of the Humean "is-ought" distinction. In addition to Apel, I take
issue with several other very recent classifications of Peirce.
The interactionist model
that I re-construct does make it possible to interpret Peirce as saying that
certain procedural rules, which the scientist seeking a "faultless"
representation of reality must learn to follow, are indeed necessary, although
not sufficient, conditions for objectivity. His references to candour,
diligence, fairness, and the acceptance of both fallibilism and the performative
rules for making an assertion can all be understood as normative requirements
for ensuring the quality and the integrity of the inquiry.
Descriptor: POLITICAL SCIENCE, GENERAL