- Normativity and Naturalism in "The Fixation of Belief"
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 55, Number 1, Winter 2019
- pp. 1-19
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Cheryl Misak has presented a reading of Peirce's "The Fixation of Belief " that preserves both the essay's ambitious naturalism (reflected in the thesis that inquiry aims only at the settlement of opinion) and its sensible normativism (reflected in the thesis that belief aims at the truth in some important sense). This essay fleshes out Misak's proposal, formulates some challenges to it, and articulates an alternative. Misak's argument rests on the plausible claim that "it is very hard really to settle beliefs." As she interprets this claim, it could also be expressed as "it is very hard really to settle beliefs." Misak extracts a potentially strong source of normativity from Peirce's notion of belief; that concept, she argues, has sensitivity to experience and argumentation built into it. This paper criticizes Misak's interpretation and proposes to do without the sensitivity condition on which she relies. It instead proposes to stick closely to the surface reading of Peirce's paper, according to which the needed normativity can and must be drawn from the notion of stable or settled belief.