Chapter

Fallibilism and the Aim of Inquiry

Christopher Hookway

in The Pragmatic Maxim

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588381
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745089 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588381.003.0003
Fallibilism and the Aim of Inquiry

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Philosophers such as Richard Rorty and Donald Davidson have argued that it is a consequence of accepting fallibilism that truth cannot be our aim in inquiry or something that we value. Richard Rorty, for example, argues that our cognitive aim is Justified Belief, and says that the argument depends upon a pragmatist argument. Similar arguments are employed by C. S. Peirce to show that our aim has to settle belief. After analysing these arguments, this chapter discusses two different ways in which we can understand fallibilism. The chapter then discuss some issues about the role of reasons in the conduct of inquiry and, on this basis, offer reasons for resisting the claim that truth cannot be our aim. Rorty’s pragmatist argument rests on the assumption that we can only adopt something as our goal if we can recognize when it is achieved.

Keywords: fallibilism; truth; aim of inquiry; justified belief; doubt; scepticism; reasons; Rorty; Peirce

Chapter.  8522 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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