Peirce on Grounding the Laws of Logic

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Abstract
This paper is a contribution to the long-standing debate over the coherence of Charles Sanders Peirce’s overall system of philosophy. It approaches that issue through the lens of a contemporary debate over the notion of metaphysical grounding, or more broadly, the nature of metaphysical explanation, employing the laws of logic as a case study. The central question concerns how we can take seriously what we shall call Peirce’s Rule—that nothing can be admitted to be absolutely inexplicable—without being vulnerable to a vicious regress or equally vicious circularity. I first argue that in Peirce’s early work he offers a quietist conception of grounding that provides a persuasive and ground-breaking answer to this central question. I then raise a familiar concern, that in Peirce’s later work we find hints of a more metaphysical conception of grounding that seems unable to answer that question and is thus inconsistent with his earlier work. The paper ends with a speculative interpretation of Peirce’s approach to metaphysics and its possible role in grounding logical principles.
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Archival date: 2020-08-13
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