Pragmatism and Management Inquiry: Insights from the Thought of Charles S. Peirce

By Juan Fontrodona | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Community: The Ethical
Principle of Action

The scientific attitude in human action calls for the presence of reason in the deliberation process. Without reason, human conduct would be confined to instinctive conduct, which has a purely adaptive relation with the environment. However, human action is not adaptive, because we have the ability to take the initiative in the interaction, modifying our habits of conduct with respect to a future action. Therefore, our conduct is deliberate action. The science that studies deliberate action is ethics, which therefore deserves to be considered the normative science par excellence, because, for pragmatism, deliberateness is essential for action and reason, which is a special type of action (CP 5.442).

The deliberate character of action is analyzed by Peirce under the concept of self-control. Self-control enables the presence of a space for the “ought-to-be” of conduct and thought (CP 4.540), without which action would always be regulated by existing habits. Thus, through self-control, it is possible to embark on a course of action other than that which would normally happen; in other words, it is possible to change the rules of action to adapt them to the novelty of human action.


DELIBERATE ACTION

Ed Petry published a study of the evolution of the concept of self-control throughout Peirce’s life.1 In an early stage, the concept of self-control was influenced by Friedrich Schiller’s thinking. For Schiller, people had to have the ability to conceive a subjective unity throughout all the temporary

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