Pragmatism About Theoretical Entities • 1

By theoretical entities I mean things like classes, properties, qualities, sets, situations, or states of affairs, in general, the putative denotations of theoretical concepts, formulas, sentences, terms, or treatises, in brief, the ostensible objects of signs.

A conventional statement of Ockham’s Razor is —

  • Entities shall not be multiplied beyond necessity.

That is still good advice, as practical maxims go, but a pragmatist will read that as practical necessity or utility, qualifying the things that we need to posit in order to think at all, without getting lost in endless circumlocutions of perfectly good notions.

Nominalistic revolts are well-intentioned when they naturally arise, seeking to clear away the clutter of ostentatious entities ostensibly denoted by signs that do not denote.

But that is no different in its basic intention than what Peirce sought to do, clarifying metaphysics though the application of the Pragmatic Maxim.

Taking the long view, then, pragmatism can be seen as a moderate continuation of Ockham’s revolt, substituting a principled revolution for what tends to descend to a reign of terror.

This entry was posted in Abstraction, C.S. Peirce, Essentialism, Hypostatic Abstraction, Logic, Mathematics, Metaphysics, Method, Nominalism, Ockham, Ockham's Razor, Peirce, Pragmatic Maxim, Pragmatism, Realism, Semiotics, Theory and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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