Pierce's Pragmatic Maxim Analysis

Decent Essays
The original pragmatic maxim and the whole creation of pragmatism derive their origins from Charles Pierce, the creator of pragmatism and its principle. The pragmatic principle that Pierce develops can be put forth from his essay, “How To Make Our Ideas Clear”, that “our idea of anything is our idea of its sensible effects.” (56) According to Pierce, pragmatism says our understanding or meanings of objects and beliefs formulate because of the qualities and characteristics that the objects and beliefs posses along with their resulting practical utilities. An example that Pierce offers in regards to his pragmatic principle is the Christian religious ritual of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation involves the use of bread and wine in the ritual’s …show more content…
However, in summarizing Pierce’s pragmatic principle, James shifts the principle from a theory of meaning and understanding to a theory of truth. James begins his summarization by stating that “what truth means is indeed the conduct it dictates or inspires”. (67) Ironically, this explication of the principle is not what Pierce meant when he developed the pragmatic principle. Pierce equates the principle to be that the meaning of an object or idea is the utility that results from such object or idea. James equates the principle to be that the meaning of a truth, not an object or idea, is the utility and effects that result in believing such truth: “the effective meaning of any philosophic proposition can always be brought down to some particular consequence, in our future practical experience, whether active or passive.” (67) James shifts the pragmatic maxim away from a theory of meaning to a theory of truth based on the resulting psychological effects the idea causes a …show more content…
Accordingly, the hypotheses regarding the existence of God provide options that “[make] some appeal, however small, to your belief” (93) if accepted. However, James realizes that not everyone reading his essay will believe this so he then shows why individuals should decide between options in which evidence is non-existent or insufficient. To do this, James presents Pascal’s wager and the bearings the wager has. James acknowledges that “the option offered to the will by Pascal is not a living option” (94) as Pascal’s option offers us a dead hypothesis as there is “no tendency to act on it.” (95) It is here that James acknowledges that Pascal’s wager, like his own argument offers what initially seem to be dead hypotheses. However, James explains that “our non-intellectual nature does influence our convictions. There are passional tendencies and volitions which run before and others which come after belief.” (97) Thus, Pascal’s wager and James’s forthcoming argument do both present a genuine option. James believes that by

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    James’ theory would be effective at creating many new beliefs but his process does not emphasize the creation of true beliefs, as he desires. Without criticizing and discussing beliefs James’s idea of maximizing true beliefs is not accomplished. William James was a radical empiricist (James, Preface). He says “‘radical’ because it treats the doctrine of monism itself as a hypothesis, and, unlike so much of the half-way empiricism that is current” (James, Preface). James believed that there are multiple true experiences of a singular reality.…

    • 1421 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    According to Scanlon, given that there are motivated desires, which depend on our reasoning, and only exist because we have reasoned, then motivated desires should be taken as support for the idea that desire is not needed to be motivated by reason. This is because motivated desires are the products of reason. Thus, according to Scanlon, our reasoning, even in the absence of a corresponding desire, can motivate us to act. Yet,…

    • 1048 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Cognitivism Analysis

    • 985 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Numerous would along these lines contend, that from our assessment, it is important to thusly move far from cognitivism and its attention on ethical quality as a basically certain certainty. Because of the way that G.E.Moore 's reaction to naturalism comes up short by its own particular guidelines, does this not propose that moral dialect is non-psychological and hostile to realist? Firstly, we have to consider the domain of emotivism and fundamentally A.J. Ayer– the methodology that most concurs with good explanations only being a declaration of sentiment. Comprehensively talking, the expression "expressivism" alludes to a group of perspectives in the rationality of dialect as indicated by which the implications of cases in a specific range…

    • 985 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The morality can be determined prior to the action. 2. Categorical imperative as used in Kant’s ethical theory is the tool which tries to eliminate the use of self-interest in deriving what we perceive to be moral. According to the categorical imperative, only actions which are done in fulfillment of duty are regarded to be moral but not action done from the motive of self-interest. From his view, any action done from self-interest are taken to be prudent rather than moral.…

    • 1177 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The case where this occurs is when it is forced, momentous, and live. Following this, one of the examples James gives of this situation occurring is the choice of whether you believe in God or not. He believes that you cannot have no opinion on the matter, but instead are forced to choose whether you believe or not, so it is forced (James 17). He also believes that this is a momentous and live option (James 17). Clifford could potentially argue that there is more evidence for believing God does not exist than that he does exist.…

    • 1154 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This essay will evaluate Descartes causal proof of the existence of God presented in Meditation 3. First, the essay will outline the proof itself. Then, by considering objections and subsequent responses, it will evaluate whether Descartes has been successful in his proof for the existence of God. This essay concludes that the objections are not overcome by Descartes and his argument fails In previous Meditations, Descartes established the distinction between ideas and judgements. Ideas themselves cannot be true or false, whereas judgements can be mistaken and Descartes proposes the most common mistake is that I judge my ideas to resemble something in the external world.…

    • 1503 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    C. S. Lewis Moral Argument

    • 1809 Words
    • 8 Pages

    It is through morality, Christian beliefs, Christian behavior, and the doctrine of the Trinity that C.S. Lewis’s moral argument is founded upon and gives people the distinct knowledge that there is a personal Creator. Before I begin to talk about the influence that C.S. Lewis had on philosophy through his moral argument, I would like to provide some background about C.S. Lewis.…

    • 1809 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Others may say that Socrates defense was not adequate because it lacked any emotional appeal. Socrates defense should of appeal emotionally and have been sincere would of made a stronger defense, but Socrates defense is solely based on searching for the truth and not trying to triumph the argument Thus, appealing to rhetoric would undermine himself as being a philosopher. Socrates defense is based on logic is right in the sense he is trying to reveal the truth that he is not corrupting the youth and is only searching for truth within entities. 2. Descartes argument concerning the a existence of God is a based on that knowledge a priori and that one thing he is sure of is that he is a thinking thing and for that he know he exist.…

    • 1404 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Coherentism In Philosophy

    • 1504 Words
    • 7 Pages

    They believe the problem rest on the misunderstanding about coherentism. Often coherentists will point out that their purpose is to build systems of justified beliefs and the idea of justification should not be linear, or circular, it should be holistic in character (BonJour, 2003). A belief will not be justified as true or be rejected as false just because of its relation to its surrounding beliefs. Rather, the belief will be justified if it is in relations with the relevant justified system of beliefs. Some have argued that changing the justification to holistic fails to truly answer the circular problem.…

    • 1504 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences, but on whether the moral reason is “from duty”. Actions done “in conformity with duty” or out of self-interest, have no moral worth to Kant. Duty is defined as an individual’s rational understanding of the action their pursuing. This relates to an action’s maxim, which is what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Two main principles are used to further Kant’s theory, one being the principle of universalizability.…

    • 1103 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays