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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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Peirce and Scepticism

Peirce and Scepticism

(p.20) 1 Peirce and Scepticism
The Pragmatic Maxim

Christopher Hookway

Oxford University Press

Although Peirce endorsed fallibilism, he had no sympathy for philosophical concerns with scepticism. This was because ‘real doubt’ required a reason and the fact that we have no positive reason for accepting a proposition does not give us reason to doubt it. He argued that we can take scepticism seriously only if we adopt a flawed ‘nominalist’ conception of reality. If we adopt his favoured ‘realist’ conception of reality, and recognize that we have direct knowledge of external things, then there is no reason to take scepticism seriously. His pragmatic maxim provided reasons for accepting Peirce’s conception of reality and for demonstrating that the truth is knowable by the method of science

Keywords:   pragmatism, peirce, scepticism, doubt, reasons for belief, reasons for doubt, nominalism, realism

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