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Charles Sanders Peirce on Belief Fixation and Science


Charles Sanders Peirce is among the philosophers that help explain reason beyond the syllogism presented by Aristotle. In his account concerning belief fixation, the philosopher offers four distinct strategies that people can utilize to fix a belief. Specifically, Sanders explains that the scientific method, the a priori method, the authority method, and the tenacity approach are crucial to helping people fix their beliefs. However, Charles Sanders Pierce further criticizes three of the provided methods despite, ironically, associating them with certain advantages. He defines the fourth method as the most effective and rational approach for belief foundations. Furthermore, Peirce claims that the onset of doubt provides the core reason to question an individual’s beliefs in his discussion. In this sense, this essay explores the methods presented by Charles Peirce, why he associates the first three methods with faultiness and irrational aspects, and why the philosopher embraces the scientific method.

Charles Peirce Methods for Belief Fixation

Charles Sanders Peirce presents four methods that he considers the most effective in eliminating doubt. First, the philosopher presents the tenacity method and explains that people who utilize it to resolve doubt experience specific benefits. According to Melchert (594), people with immovable and steady beliefs have a substantial peace of mind that favors their faith. Peirce identifies this fixation method because it emphasizes a significant view, and not even facts can confuse a person with particular beliefs. Secondly, Charles Peirce suggests the authority method, which he links with the Bible and other aspects that enhance human thoughts. Melchert (594) explains that institutions teach doctrines to people, leading to a core enhancement of beliefs, which affects what they believe in and how they handle doubt. The second method comes out as a better and more effective approach than the tenacity method because it has extensive outcomes, particularly in terms of art and culture. Furthermore, Melchert (595) “humankind benefits immensely from utilizing the authority method to eliminate doubts.” Thus, the authority method is critical in resolving doubts about certain beliefs.

The third method presented by Charles Peirce entails the a priori approach, which the philosopher also recognizes as the natural preferences method. In this approach, “people accept aspects that come out as clear and distinct, self-evident, agreeable to reason, and obvious” (Melchert, 595). In other words, Peirce claims that people’s opinions neither come from authorities nor happen. Instead, Melchert (595) explains that “these opinions originate from having conversations with others and engaging in reflection.” The fourth method involves the scientific method, the philosopher’s favorite. The technique presents distinctive features, such as its public nature, and attempts to connect people’s beliefs with others’ thoughts.

Why Charles Sanders Peirce Says the First Three Methods are Irrational and Faulty

Even Sanders proposes four different doubt fixation methods along with their benefits, he criticizes their first three methods and considers the fourth approach more plausible. One significant reason the philosopher criticizes the first method entails its failure to work. According to Melchert (594), Sanders’s objection concerning the tenacity method is that it does not work. Since people experience influence from others concerning their opinion, Sanders proposes the second method, which he further criticizes. The philosopher criticizes the authority method because he feels that “different people from distinct ages or cultures have various doctrines associated with discrepant authorities” (Melchert, 595). These differences lead to questioning whether a particular group’s beliefs are superior to others. Furthermore, Charles Sanders Peirce lacks satisfaction with the a priori approach because it associates the fixation of views with a taste issue, which differs from time to time. These criticisms of the first three approaches leave Sanders with, according to him, the most effective method of resolving doubts.

Why Charles Sanders Peirce Prefers the Science Approach

Sanders presents reasons that compel him to prefer the scientific approach to the first three methods. First, the science method establishes particular hypotheses concerning perception reliability, which aligns with the independence of what others think about other people’s beliefs. According to Melchert (596), “Peirce indicates that the science approaches lack the distinctive features of responding to independent aspects of what people think about others’ beliefs.” Secondly, Peirce prefers the science approach because he insists that the first three ways of resolving doubts have certain incompetency. After all, it comprises the public character that the other systems lack. In other words, the scientific method presents that “people’s beliefs come from what can affect them and those that inquire” (Melchert, 596), which is the public character.


While Charles Sanders Peirce presents a significant explanation of metaphysics, the philosopher’s pragmatism is more relevant in modern society. Peirce offers four distinct ways that help with resolving matters of doubt, including the scientific method, a priori method, authority, and tenacity. Even though his first three approaches come with notable benefits, Charles Sanders criticizes them. He associates them with a lack of certain features that would make them practical in solving doubts and fixing beliefs. Instead, the philosopher supports the scientific method (his fourth approach) because it has distinct features that consider the public character and independence. In this sense, Charles Sanders Peirce offers a significant account of pragmatism that shapes people’s ways to fix beliefs.

Works Cited

Melchert, N. (2019). The great conversation: A historical introduction to philosophy.


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