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The Normative Thought of Charles S. Peirce

Cornelis de Waal Associate Professor of Philosophy Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: American Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. xvii-xviii

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One: Traditions of Innovation and Improvisation: Jazz as Metaphor, Philosophy as Jazz

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pp. 1-25

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 . . .

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Two: Normative Judgment in Jazz: A Semiotic Framework

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pp. 26-43

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 . . .

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Three: Charles Peirce on Ethics

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pp. 44-82

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 . . .

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Four: Who´s Afraid of Charles Sanders Peirce?: Knocking Some Critical Common Sense into Moral Philosophy

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pp. 83-100

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 . . .

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Five: Peirce´s Moral Realicism

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pp. 101-124

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 . . .

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Six: Improving our Habits: Peirce and Meliorism

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pp. 125-148

Although their perspectives and aims may differ greatly, most pragmatists tend to emphasize consequential practice rather than pure theory. Indeed, a melioristic inclination, a desire to improve the future lot . . .

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Seven: Self-Control, Values, and Moral Development: Peirce on the Value-driven Dynamics of Human Morality

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pp. 149-171

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 . . .

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Eight: Why is the Normativity of Logic Based on Rules?

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pp. 172-184

According to Peirce, normative sciences are the “most purely theoretical of purely theoretical sciences” (CP 1.281, c. 1902, A Detailed Classification of the Sciences). At the same time, he takes logic to be a normative science. . . .

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Nine: Unassailable Belief and Ideal-Limit Opinion: Is Agreement Important for Truth?

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pp. 185-213

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 his scholastic realism, which explicates . . .

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Ten: The Normativity of Communication: Norms and Ideals in Peirce’s Speculative Rhetoric

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pp. 214-230

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 . . .

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Eleven: Peircean Modal (and Moral?) Realism(s): Remarks on the Normative Methodology of Pragmatist Metaphysics

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pp. 231-258

The immediate purpose of this essay is to compare Charles S. Peirce’s metaphysics of the modalities—or rather, a “Peircean” approach to this metaphysical issue that can be derived from his defense of . . .


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pp. 259-290


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pp. 291-307


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pp. 309-312


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pp. 313-321

Further Reading

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pp. 323-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246250
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823242443
Print-ISBN-10: 0823242447

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: American Philosophy