Dissertation Abstract




The Presence of Normative Rules as Pre-Conditions for Objectivity

 In the Epistemology of Charles S. Peirce:

Lessons from the Experiences of Secondness


Philip Joseph Jacobs


Degree:          Ph.D.

Year:              1986

Pages:             305

Institution:      Boston College


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.




Accession No:     AAG8612168

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations