Levi's Challenge and Peirce's Theory/Practice Distinction

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 48 (1):51 (2012)
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Isaac Levi targets an implicit tension in C.S. Peirce’s epistemology, one that exists between the need to always be open-minded and aware of our propensity to make mistakes so that we do not “block the road of inquiry,” and the need to treat certain beliefs as infallible and to doubt only in a genuine way so that inquiry can proceed in the first place. Attempts at alleviating this tension have typically involved interpreting Peirce as ascribing different normative standards to different areas of inquiry. I argue here that such “double-standard” interpretations face significant problems. I offer instead an interpretation of Peirce on which the differences between different areas of inquiry are descriptive rather than normative. Such a view resolves Levi’s tension while interpreting Peirce as consistently subscribing to one normative standard for all inquiry.

Author's Profile

Kenneth Boyd
University of Toronto, St. George Campus (PhD)


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