PEIRCE´S MORAL “REALICISM”
Rosa Maria Mayorga
Charles Peirce did not seem to have a consistent view regarding ethics. His occasional remarks on this subject appear to be contradictory at best and cynical at worst. As a result, many have suggested that his comments on ethics, especially those expressed in the 1898 Cambridge Conference lectures, should be dismissed or ignored. I argue in this essay that Peirce’s views on ethics can be best understood by comparing them to his views on scholastic realism and nominalism. Furthermore, when analyzed in this way, Peirce’s observations on ethics can serve as the grounds for a robust moderate moral realism (a moral “realicism”) that can compare favorably with contemporary metaethical theories.
Charles Peirce delivered the following shocking remarks in the first of the Cambridge Conference Lectures in 1898, which his friend William James charitably set up in a time of dire economic need for Peirce.