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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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Fallibilism and the Aim of Inquiry

Fallibilism and the Aim of Inquiry

(p.39) 2 Fallibilism and the Aim of Inquiry
The Pragmatic Maxim

Christopher Hookway

Oxford University Press

Philosophers such as Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson have argued that it is a consequence of accepting fallibilism that truth cannot be our aim in inquiry or something that we value. Richard Rorty, for example, argues that our cognitive aim is Justified Belief, and says that the argument depends upon a pragmatist argument. Similar arguments are employed by C. S. Peirce to show that our aim has to settle belief. After analysing these arguments, this chapter discusses two different ways in which we can understand fallibilism. The chapter then discuss some issues about the role of reasons in the conduct of inquiry and, on this basis, offer reasons for resisting the claim that truth cannot be our aim. Rorty’s pragmatist argument rests on the assumption that we can only adopt something as our goal if we can recognize when it is achieved.

Keywords:   fallibilism, truth, aim of inquiry, justified belief, doubt, scepticism, reasons, Rorty, Peirce

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