Peirce criticizes the three methods of inquiry Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:26:25
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Peirce criticizes the three methods of inquiry that he sees as pre-scientific as unable to fix belief permanently, only able to allow the person who uses them a temporary degree of certainty. These three methods are: tenacity, authority and apriorism. Tenacity is, essentially, the ability to hold on to a belief with ones will, turning away from anything that might make one doubt the belief. This is an irrational way of fixing belief, and, as anyone can see, very easily leads to error like Peirce himself said, it compares to an ostrich who burrows his head in the sand.

This may fixate belief, but neither does it help survive nor to increase knowledge. But this isnt its only fault: should the tenacious man accidentally realize that others hold opinions, too, and that they vary, he will lose certainty in his belief, and thus, this method of defense will no longer work for him it will not fix his ideas. He must somehow resist the influence of the community, and this method is weak against it. Authority is the temporary solution it is a method that fixes belief by referencing it to someone who is an authority for the community.

Better yet, to follow a group which is designated by the community to decide properly and the others should be kept dull on the subject so that there is no diversity of opinion that may undermine authority. It is very effective for the survival of a community, and Peirce admits that for most people it is most effective it fixes individual belief even though the real collective belief changes: it goes through its phases so slowly it is unnoticeable in an individuals life. But this is only as long as these people wish to be intellectual slaves. There are, however, always those who slip through the cracks of such a system.

Those who are not important enough to silence but still dare to think and should they see other cultures (which is unavoidable), they will think otherwise and the system will fail at least in part. However, the solution proposed by these men is still far from perfect though much closer to the ideal because it relies on intuitive concepts which are far from experience. The axioms of these systems are taken from intuition alone, and thus more a subjective matter, a matter of taste, as Peirce puts it. Thus this, too, becomes a fallacy and degenerates into relativism or elaborately built cloud castles.

Besides, subjective opinions and any manner of social reasoning are too easily influenced, and thus not very prone to the fixation of beliefs. It is authority once more, as is well enough shown by the fact that any system of science soon receives an aprioristic method of confirmation from some branch of philosophy. . The fourth method, that of science, however, is closest to the truth it derives itself from the logic of nature, one and indivisible, unlike the thoughts of men. It is the only method which actually contains notions of right and wrong as compared to the world and practical results.

It is the only thing, in Peirces opinion, which can truly settle opinions between men. It is simply testable by reproducing a similar situation and allowing the experiment to solve the doubt between scientists. In this he agrees with a member of the Vienna circle named Herbert Feigl. He, too, consider science to be the most adequate tool for the perception of reality. Indeed, the only tool really worth using if, of course, the scientific criteria are followed. The greatest requirement that Feigl makes of science is that of intersubjective testability.

This means that any knowledge that is presumed scientific must be principally testable. Any person with the necessary tools and of sufficient intelligence to understand the topic at hand, whichever topic it may be, must be able to repeat any situation out of which knowledge arises and be able to come to the same conclusion. If this is so, then science as a social structure and an effective body of knowledge becomes essentially self-correcting: any new assumption or hypothesis will sooner or later be tested by others and not accepted on word. Empirical experience, once again, is featured as the final judge of whats to come.

He accepts that true and testable are not necessarily one and the same, but science as the best method of fixing knowledge can only reach so far as the empirical world and its tests. This method, presented by men of science for men of science, are far from complete they do not take into account many difficult social situations or reduce them to a mere need to spend more time observing and yet it is rather effective. Though rather difficult for humanitarian use, it brought the natural sciences to their fruition, and it is the method which has the most credibility in current society.

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