Consensus on Peirce’s Concept of Habit

Volume 31 of the series Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics pp 143-152


Belief as Habit

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In this paper we analyze the thesis according to which belief is a habit of conduct, one purely of thought or leading to action, basing our analysis on the notion of abduction interpreted as an epistemic process for belief revision, all of this within the frame of Charles Peirce’s Pragmatism. The notion of abduction in his work is entangled with many aspects of his philosophy. On the one hand, it is linked to his epistemology, a dynamic view of thought as logical inquiry, and corresponds to a deep philosophical concern, that of studying the nature of synthetic reasoning. On the other hand, abduction is proposed as the underlying logic of pragmatism: “If you carefully consider the question of pragmatism you will see that it is nothing else than the question of the logic of abduction.” (1903) [CP 5.196]. Two natural consequences of this analysis are the following: the interpretation of Peirce’s abductive formulation goes beyond that of a logical argument, especially when viewed as an epistemic process for belief revision and habit acquisition. Moreover, the requirement of experimental verification goes beyond hypotheses verification, for it also requires the calculation of their effects; those that produce new habits of conduct, being these theoretical or practical.


Pragmatism Abduction Habit Pragmatic maxim