more from Charles Sanders Peirce

Single Idea 14770

[catalogued under 11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 3. Fallibilism]

Full Idea

All positive reasoning is judging the proportion of something in a whole collection by the proportion found in a sample. Hence we can never hope to attain absolute certainty, absolute exactitude, absolute universality.

Gist of Idea

Reasoning is based on statistical induction, so it can't achieve certainty or precision


Charles Sanders Peirce (Scientific Attitude and Fallibilism [1899], II)

Book Reference

Peirce,Charles Sanders: 'Philosophical Writings of Peirce', ed/tr. Buchler,Justus [Dover 1940], p.56

A Reaction

This is the basis of Peirce's fallibilism - that all 'positive' reasoning (whatever that it?) is based on statistical induction. I'm all in favour of fallibilism, but find Peirce's claim to be a bit too narrow. He was too mesmerised by physical science.

Related Idea

Idea 6352 Enumerative induction gives a universal judgement, while statistical induction gives a proportion [Pollock/Cruz]