THE UNITY OF THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF C. S. PEIRCE
BLACK, WALTER RICHARD
Doctor of Philosophy
The underlying raison d'etre of the work is that, despite the large amount of scholarship which has gone into the analysis and criticism of the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce in the past thirty-five years, commentators have inadequately perceived--and at times denied--the relationship of Peirce's pragmatic theory of meaning to the other basic elements of his epistemology. This study attempts to rectify this oversight by exposing the logical interdependence of the core concepts of that epistemology--that is, Peirce's notions of meaning, truth, and reality--within a distinctive pragmatic framework and showing the manner in which his two main doctrines concerning the nature and limitations of human knowledge, fallibilism and critical common-sensism, fold neatly into that framework. The study consists of three distinct but intimately related phases. First of all, there is the tracing of the roots of the pragmatic theory of meaning and the Peircean notions of truth and reality (Chapters I through III). The central contention developed in this phase is that Peirce's idiosyncratic conceptions of truth and reality are built into the theory of meaning and that all three of these elements of his epistemology derive their character from the neo-phenomenalistic perspective which serves as their matrix. The second phase (Chapter IV) extends this unifying analysis to the doctrines of fallibilism and critical common-sensism. It is therein shown that both of these doctrines are implicit in the assumptions upon which the interrelated views of meaning, truth, and reality are founded. Taken together, the first two phases of the study build a new case for assigning the label "pragmatism" to the main body of Peirce's epistemology, rather than restricting it (in the traditional manner) to his criterion of meaning. In the final phase of the study (Chapters V and VI) the findings of the earlier pages are reinforced and accorded additional depth by exploring the relevance of Peirce's unified epistemology to two issues of moment in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science, namely, the confirmability of empirical hypotheses and the doctrine of theory-dependent meaning.