Charles Peirce on Ethics, Esthetics and the Normative Sciences  book cover
1st Edition

Charles Peirce on Ethics, Esthetics and the Normative Sciences

ISBN 9780367746001
Published August 12, 2021 by Routledge
248 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book presents a comprehensive and systematic picture of Charles Peirce’s ethics and aesthetics, arguing that Peirce established a normative framework for the study of right conduct and good ends. It also connects Peirce’s normative thought to contemporary debates in ethical theory.

Peirce sought to articulate the relation among logic as right thinking, ethics as good conduct and, in an unorthodox sense of aesthetics, the pursuit of ends that are fine and worthy. Each plays an important role in ethical life. Once aesthetics has determined what makes an end worthy and admirable, and ethics determines which are good and right to pursue, logical and scientific reasoning is employed to figure the most likely means to attain those ends. Ethics does the additional duty of ensuring that the means conform to ideals of conduct. In the process, Peirce develops an interesting theory of moral motivation, an account of moral reasoning, moral truth, and a picture of what constitutes a moral community.

Charles Peirce on Ethics, Esthetics and the Normative Sciences will be of interest to scholars and students working on Peirce, American philosophy, and metaethics.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Influences on Peirce’s Ethical Thought

Chapter 2: Morality, Ethics and Peirce’s Conservative Sentimentalism

Chapter 3: The Normative Science of Ethics

Chapter 4: A Grammar of Ethics

Chapter 5: Ethical Reasoning

Chapter 6: Moral Truth and Moral Realism

Chapter 7: Ethical Community

Chapter 8: Esthetics

Chapter 9: Ends

Conclusion: The Lessons of the Normative Sciences

Appendix 1: Peirce’s Classification of Ends

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James Jakób Liszka is Senior Scholar at the Institute for Ethics in Public Life and Professor of Philosophy at The State University of New York, College at Plattsburgh. He is also Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary and Area Studies. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and was Visiting Professor at Beijing Language and Culture University and the China Youth University for Political Sciences in Beijing. He was Humanities Fellow at the University of Toronto, Scarborough College. He is the author of Pragmatist Ethics: A Problem-Based Approach to What Matters (2021), Moral Competence (2002), A General Introduction to the Semeiotic of Charles S. Peirce (1996), and The Semiotic of Myth: A Critical Study of the Symbol (1989). He has also published several articles on ethical theory, environmental ethics, pragmatism and narrative theory.


"James Liszka’s book is, to date and without question, one of the best resources on its titular focus. It thoroughly considers the historical roots of Peirce’s thought on values and normativity, and it addresses some hard questions about it, including about the nature of the growth of concrete reasonableness, which Peirce considers to be our ethical summum bonum. It is clear and focused, and it contributes much to the discussion in this area of Peirce scholarship, interest in which has increased over the past decade."Aaron Wilson, South Texas College, USA