Peirce's Fallibilism: A Thematic Analysis and the Revisitation of the Origins of Fallibilism

Amamihe: Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (4):18-35 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper thematically analyzes Charles Sanders Peirce’s doctrine of fallibilism. Peirce’s fallibilism is best construed as an epistemic thesis that tries to correct the excesses of and mediate between Cartesian dogmatism and skepticism. Hence, as a theory of epistemic justification, it is neither overly confident like foundationalism nor overarchingly cynic like skepticism. It grants the possibility for knowledge, yet, this knowledge is not foregrounded on absolute warrants. The paper therefore argues that, it is at this juncture that the theory runs into the problem of vagueness: if we are not certain at which particular point a given piece of information becomes knowledge, how can we know we have arrived at it yet? Subsequently, Peirce’s novel introduction of hope (as an epistemic principle) and the self-corrective nature of inquiry makes his theory more convincing. Thus, we do not need to worry about arriving at the knowledge, because doubt necessitates inquiry which in turn is self-corrective. So, the more the inquiry, the surer we are of arriving at knowledge

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Chrysogonus Okwenna
Simon Fraser University

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