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The Pragmatic MaximEssays on Peirce and pragmatism$
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Christopher Hookway

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588381.001.0001

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Introduction: The Pragmatist Maxim, the Method of Science, and Representation

Introduction: The Pragmatist Maxim, the Method of Science, and Representation

(p.1) Introduction: The Pragmatist Maxim, the Method of Science, and Representation
The Pragmatic Maxim

Christopher Hookway

Oxford University Press

Peirce was the founder of pragmatism, which he presented as a maxim of logic that enables us to obtain complete clarify about the contents of concepts and propositions and to reject empty metaphysical claims. This maxim was taken up by William James and others. The maxim formed part of the epistemological framework which Peirce defended in ‘The fixation of belief’. He rejected Cartesian foundationalist approaches to epistemology, holding that there was no reason to take familiar sceptical challenges seriously, favouring a fallibilist standpoint compatible with realism. In later work, he gave more detailed formulations of the maxim, attempting to show how his version of pragmatism was superior to that defended by William James—one respect being that his version could receive a strict proof. He also held that pragmatism required an account of perception which emphasized the richness of perceptual experience.

Keywords:   pragmatism, Cartesianism, realism, nominalism, belief, judgement, assertion

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