Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth

Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth

Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth

Truth and the End of Inquiry: A Peircean Account of Truth


C.S. Peirce, the founder of pragmatism, argued that truth is what we would agree upon, were inquiry to be pursued as far as it could fruitfully go. In this book, Misak argues for and elucidates the pragmatic account of truth, paying attention both to Peirce's texts and to the requirements of a suitable account of truth. An important argument of the book is that we must be sensitive to the difference between offering a definition of truth and engaging in a distinctively pragmatic project. The pragmatic project spells out the relationship between truth and inquiry; it articulates the consequences of a statement's being true. The existence of a distinct pragmatic enterprise has implications for the status of the pragmatic account of truth and for the way in which philosophy should be conducted.


This book is about truth and inquiry. It explains how, following C. S. Peirce, we might think it correct to say that a true hypothesis is one which would be believed at the end of inquiry.

Peirce, however, conceived of himself as an 'architectonic' philosopher and so in order to get a grip on what he thought about truth, one must make serious excursions into his pragmatism, theory of signs, fallibilism, critical commonsensism, logic, categories, and scholastic realism. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Peirce's thought was constantly evolving: not much in his system lies static, isolated, or unconnected. Thus the account of truth that I shall put forward as Peirce's is one that has to be both excavated and reconstructed from the architectonic maze of forty years of diffuse papers. The resulting account, however, is not the product of purely historical scholarship. Although my argument is one firmly based at all points on Peirce's work, it is an argument about what the best account of truth is; it is an argument about what account of truth we should extract from Peirce's work.

The core of my interpretation is the view of truth and inquiry which Peirce first developed in the 1870s. The culmination of this work was published in a series of papers in the Popular Science Monthly, called 'Illustrations of the Logic of Science'. They include the famous papers 'How to Make Our Ideas Clear' and 'The Fixation of Belief'. The central philosophical ideas which I retain from this period were never abandoned by Peirce. There are numerous passages in the 1900s where he refers to and ratifies them. Thus references in my work to the earlier period represent what I take to be constant in Peirce's position--the theses he maintained into the 1900s.

In the late 1880s and early 1900s Peirce amended many of his doctrines. Where these are significant improvements, I take on the amendments. And so it is to this later period that my interpretation best attaches. But in order to keep the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.