At this point in his inventory of scientific reasoning, Peirce is relating the nature of inference, information, and inquiry to the character of the signs mediating the process in question, a process he is presently describing as symbolization.
In the interests clarity let’s draw from Peirce’s account a couple of quick sketches, designed to show how the examples he gives of conjunctive terms and disjunctive terms might look if they were cast within a lattice-theoretic frame.
Let’s examine Peirce’s example of a conjunctive term — spherical, bright, fragrant, juicy, tropical fruit — within a lattice framework. We have these six terms:
Suppose that is the logical conjunction of the above six terms:
In particular, consider the following statement:
If it occurs in the predicate and something is said to be a spherical bright fragrant juicy tropical fruit, since there is nothing which is all this which is not an orange, we may say that this is an orange at once.
In other words, if something is said to be then we may guess fairly surely that is really an orange, in other words, that has all of the additional features that would be summed up quite succinctly in the much more constrained term where means an orange.
Figure 1 shows the implication ordering of logical terms in the form of a lattice diagram.
Figure 1. Conjunctive Term z, Taken as Predicate
What Peirce is saying about not being a genuinely useful symbol can be explained in terms of the gap between the logical conjunction in lattice terms, the greatest lower bound (glb) of the conjoined terms, and what we might regard as the natural conjunction or natural glb of these terms, namely, an orange. That is to say, there is an extra measure of constraint that goes into forming the natural kinds lattice from the free lattice that logic and set theory would otherwise impose. The local manifestations of this global information are meted out over the structure of the natural lattice by just such abductive gaps as the one between and
- Peirce, C.S. (1866), “The Logic of Science, or, Induction and Hypothesis”, Lowell Lectures of 1866, pp. 357–504 in Writings of Charles S. Peirce : A Chronological Edition, Volume 1, 1857–1866, Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1982.