PEIRCE-L Digest 1314 - Feb 28 - Mar 1, 1998  

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   From PEIRCE-L Forum, Jan 5, 1998, [name of author of message],
   "re: Peirce on Teleology"   

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Topics covered in this issue include:

  1) thread on Hookway's book
	by Joseph Ransdell 
  2) Re: Is Poetry a First?
	by Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
  3) Logic Naturalized?
	by Howard Callaway 


Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 11:57:47
From: Joseph Ransdell 
To: peirce-l[…]TTACS.TTU.EDU
Subject: thread on Hookway's book
Message-ID: <[…]>

With the thread on Hookway's book starting up again I have assembled and
posted to a single page on the website the previous messages in the thread,
beginning on Jan 14 with a message by Dennis Knepp. It is likely that I
have left out some (perhaps many), owing to the way I assembled them.

I keep copies of messages to peirce-l on my own machine in a variety of
ways owing to the use of several different mailers that I use to compensate
for the many vagaries of the email system. In this case I found it
convenient to use the copies on one of the accounts which I also know to
have some gaps in the records, and I haven't had time to verify against a
more reliable record yet.  I don't have time to do this for the other slow
read thread -- the one on the New LIst -- which is much larger, I think,
nor will I be attempting to keep the Hookway thread current except perhaps
at odd times, but I thought it would be helpful to provide at least this
much support for that thread.  
If anybody wants to put the time in on assembling all of those in a single
file, in ASCII format, which should ideally -- but not necessarily, I
suppose -- include trimming them down by eliminating for this purpose
everything but minimal headers, large signature blocks, and sometimes
eliminating quotations from previous messages that are not necessary when
the messages are all conveniently adjacent on a web page, then I will of
course put that up on the website, too. Let me know if you do, so I can
inform everybody else so there won't be any unnecessary duplication of
effort. I don't know that it is a matter of any great importance to do
that, so I am not urging it.  But since the Hookway thread had been silent
for a while I thought it was a good idea in that case, at least.

I realize that it would be better -- more economical in terms of time -- to
set up a threading system on the website but I just haven't had time to
investigate the software options and availability and see what would be
involved in doing it. I suppose that one would set up the software and then
subscribe the web page itself to peirce-l, or something like that. 

Joe Ransdell


Joseph Ransdell - joseph.ransdell[…]  
Dept of Philosophy - 806  742-3158  (FAX 742-0730) 
Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas 79409   USA (Peirce website - beta)


Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 21:32:41 +0100
From: Thomas.Riese[…] (Thomas Riese)
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Re: Is Poetry a First?

Cathy, you wrote:

> Perhaps "degenerate" can also mean "seminal"?

I think I used the term several times. The way I used it, it has the 
same meaning as "seminal". In mathematics usually both directions are 
considered and so normally the pair (to) generate/degenerate is used 
(without any 'negative' connotations the word 'degenerate' often has 
in everyday use).



Date: Sun, 1 Mar 1998 14:59:55 +0100 (MET)
From: Howard Callaway 
To: peirce-l[…]
Subject: Logic Naturalized?

Logic Naturalized?

Looking briefly back over Hookway, Chapter 1, I came across
several passages (pp. 16-17) regarding psychologism and the
relation of logic to the special sciences. The exposition is
based on Peirce's early work, and so it leaves some room for
correction or amendment in light of later writings. But
there is also a fundamental question here of broad interest.

I think it is best to first take a stand against psycholog-
ism, though I think it equally important to take note if
there is a tendency to use the term "psychologism" too
broadly, or to use it critically without stopping to clarify
what is meant. 

The issue may have some considerable significance in the
present juncture, since in fact there is some difference in
tendency between American and British positions. So, Witt-
genstein, in my impression, following Frege, has a broad
anti-psychologistic view, and we might well expect that this
kind of view has more prevalence on the European side of the
great Atlantic divide. In contrast to this American philo-
sophy is more naturalistic in tendency, Dewey and Quine
being equally examples of this. This point suggests that
recent work concerned with Quine's "epistemology naturali-
zed" thesis could be of some importance. (Notice the
importance of British vs. American "origins" here, though,
of course, the consideration is not decisive, leastwise not
decisive in isolation.) 

So, to take my (naturalistic) anti-psychologistic stand, I
would insist that epistemology (or in general whatever means
we may have for deciding on the truth or warranted assertion
of claims) must make room for normative standards. 

We cannot expect to decide on the validity or warrant of
claims MERELY by reference to what people actually claim, or
the "methods" actually employed in arriving at particular
conclusions or assertions. This is to say that there are
better and worse methods of arriving at, and evaluating,
claims and the arguments put forward for them. 

So, in a similar way, logic does not reduce to psychology.
If psychology (or another special science) tells us how
people actually reason, we cannot replace logic with any
similar account. To do so would be to leave out the pos-
sibility that some existing habits of thought, or methods,
are logically defective or less desirable. I am including
here a rejection of the idea that psychology (or any special
science) can, by describing actual practice, definitively
decide on the validity of arguments. But this is a weaker
position than some, perhaps, since I do not exclude the
possible relevancy of psychology or other special sciences
to logical accounts of deductive validity or the "better and
worse" or arguments generally.

Now notice that Hookway states Peirce's anti-psychologism
quite broadly. He notes Peirce's rejection of the view of
J.S. Mill (having to do, in fact with associationist
psychology). According to Peirce (CW1, p. 361) we are not to
follow those who "think that Logic must be founded on a
knowledge of human nature and requires a constant reference
to human nature." Hookway comments: 

     As we shall see in the following chapter, 
     this rejection of psychologism --in fact, 
     the denial that any information from the 
     sciences can have a bearing upon logic or 
     epistemology --was a fundamental feature 
     of Peirce's work; it places him in a common 
     tradition with Frege and much of twentieth-
     century philosophy (p. 16).

In contrast with this claim, it seems to me that the anti-
psychologism of Frege and Wittgenstein is stronger than that
of the naturalist tradition in American philosophy deriving
from Peirce and pragmatism. As an example, I recall that
Peirce complains of Dewey's historical method in his early
logical works, and the issues are not unrelated. Many con-
temporary philosophers are closer to Dewey on this issue
than they are to Peirce, I believe. The issue concerns what
we may expect from the history (or sociology) of science by
way of relevancy to epistemological issues. If we hold that
epistemology or scientific methods simply reduce to an
historical (or sociological) account of the methods actually
used in the sciences, then this reductionism seems similar
to a strong psychologism. But it seems plausible to hold
that the history and sociology of science might be helpful
to normative methodology and logic without reducing the
normative questions to questions of historical or
sociological fact. 

Unless I am mistaken about the strong anti-psychologism of
Frege and Wittgenstein, it seems to me that they do not make
enough room for the (non-reductive) relevancy of special
sciences to logic and methodology. 

Hookway comments, on the same page, that according to
Peirce, "Logic is the 'classifying science' which underlies
the practice of testing reasons." Quoting Peirce:

     if we wish to be able to test arguments, what we 
     have to do is take all the arguments we can find,
     scrutinize them and put those which are alike in 
     a class by themselves and then examine all those
     different kinds and learn their properties (CW1, 
     p. 359).

If the point here is merely to insist that we should concen-
trate on linguistic inscriptions instead of "thoughts" less
explicit, then I have no trouble with this element of "anti-
psychologism." I'm much inclined to think that we chiefly
have some grasp on "thought" as a psychological phenomenon
by way of understanding and dealing with its expression in
language. Still, I would not say that thought as a psycho-
logical phenomenon just IS its linguistic expression, or
reduces to linguistic expression (or sub-vocalizations).

A crucial passage follows in Hookway, on p. 17, concerning
the "generic fallacy." Here again, I want to preface my
remarks by saying that I think there is such a thing as the
"generic fallacy." If we reduce the validity of a claim to
some account of its origin, then I think this is a mistake.
But I place some considerable emphasis here on my rejection
of "reduction." If someone tells me that the claim that so-
and-so, arises from Capitalist relations of production and
in view of this origin, it ought to be rejected, then I
won't go along. You have to actually look at the claim it-
self and no account of its origins is going to be an ade-
quate substitute for looking at the claim itself and
evaluating it in relations to methods and evidences, and
etc. (In spite of this, I think the sociology of belief,
e.g., a useful enterprize, when it is viewed non-reduc-

Hookway quotes early peirce in support of a strong anti-

     [All] information as to the forces which pro-
     duce things of any kind is quite irrelevant 
     to the business of classifying those things. 
     The inspector of flour does not care to know 
     by what agencies wheat grows (CW1, p. 361).

I have not checked the original context of this claim in
Peirce, but as interpreted in Hookway, it seems too strong.

Our contemporary wheat inspector may need to inquire re-
garding the way in which the wheat was produced, if it comes
from a genetically altered variety, for instance; or again,
the specific use of pesticides and herbicides used in
production of the wheat could make some difference to its
quality. While it seems implausible to think that any
historical account of the production of the wheat could
fully substitute for a check on the quality of the wheat
itself, this is not to say that facts about the history of
our wheat might not through its quality and classification
in question.

So, I agree with the anti-psychologism of Hookway's exposi-
tion as far as holding that logic needs to contain a norma-
tive element and should focus on linguistic expression,
rather than thought processes, and moreover I've insisted
that the validity or value of argumentation does not reduce
to the process of its production. I can agree, too, that
"whether an inference is a good one simply concerns the real
fact of whether, if the premises are true, the conclusion is

But information from the special sciences, historical stud-
ies, perhaps even psychological information, may well be
relevant to classifying arguments as valid or invalid,
better and worse.  

I think that a stronger anti-psychologism (or generally a
stronger version of the "generic fallacy") will inevitably
appeal to a doctrine of _a priori_ truth regarding logic.
I do not think that Hookway's apparent claim is true, his
(apparent) "denial that any information from the sciences
can have a bearing upon logic or epistemology... ." I
suspect this claim will not hold up as an interpretation of
peirce, considering later texts.

In general, its reasonable to take our account of good
methodology from the actual successful practice of the
sciences. Given that our judgements about when the sciences
are successful are defeasible, so are our generalizations
about the validity of particular methods. The methods of the
sciences certainly allow for cross-checking, systemization,
and even correction. Our generalizations about them are
fallible. But to say they are fallible is not to say they
are defective. There is room for considerable conservatism
in our account of good methodology, and in our logic. But
I submit that even deductive logic has been revised and
expanded, thus corrected over time. 

The factors which enter into such correction and expansion
are not the sort of thing which we could arrive at merely by
staring at logical forms on a printed page. So, for in-
stance, I think that the logic of relations is clearly an
improvement over traditional subject-predicate logic. I take
it, too, that the advent of Darwinian biology is reason for
thinking this true, partly because of the need to consider
the relations of organisms and species to their natural
environments. So if particular patterns of inference arise
in connection with successful scientific practice, then I
think this is evidence that they are valid patterns of

I do not want to argue here that Hookway is misinterpreting
Peirce's anti-psychologism (making it too strong, consi-
dering the full range of texts). That seems to me a distinct
question. But I do think that the specifics of Peirce's
anti-psychologism (whether it fully lines up with that of
Frege and Wittgenstein, e.g.) are less central to Peirce's
philosophy than is his fallibilism. This fallibilism argues
against _a priori_ conceptions of logic, and in favor of the
conception of continuity which underlies pragmatic natural-
ism --including the continuity of logical form with subject-


H.G. Callaway
Seminar for Philosophy
University of Mainz



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