Click here to download

Charles S. Peirce and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Some Remarks On a Possible Misunderstanding
Author/s: Claudio Davini 
Year:  2021 Issue: Language: Italian 
Pages:  30 Pg. 221-250 FullText PDF:  201 KB
DOI:  10.3280/SF2021-002002
(DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation:  clicca qui   and here 

The article intends to explore a mostly overlooked topic, that of Peirce’s philosophical response to Darwin’s theory of evolution. The most striking feature of nineteenth-century science in Peirce’s view was the increasing role of statistics, not only in the kinetic theory of gases but also in the theory of measurement. From the ubiquity of probable errors in scientific measurements, Peirce concluded the inherent inexactitude of all scientific measurements and the existence of real chance in nature. This conception of science predisposed Peirce favorably toward Darwin’s theory. Firstly, the Author argues that what particularly appealed to Peirce in Darwin’s theory was an aspect which Darwin himself tried to conceal in embarrassment, namely the employment of chance as a mode of explanation. Secondly, it is argued that Peirce failed to recognize the importance assigned by Darwin to the selective pressures imposed on an organism by the environment in which it is located. Finally, the Author maintains that Peirce was so impressed with the statistical aspect of Darwin’s theory that he failed to recognize the crucial role assigned by it to the nonrandom influence of selection.
Keywords: Peirce, Darwin, statistical inference, quantitative induction, Darwinian evolutionism.

  1. - CP: Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, eds. C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss, voll. 1-6, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA) 1931-35; ed. A. Burks, voll. 7-8, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA) 1958.
  2. - CE: Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition, 9 voll., ed. The Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington (IN) 1982-2000.
  3. - EP: The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, eds. N. Houser and C. Kloesel, vol. 1, Indiana University Press, Bloomington (IN) 1992; ed. The Peirce Edition Project, vol. 2, Indiana University Press, Bloomington (IN) 1998.
  4. - MS: The Charles S. Peirce Papers, microfilm edition, Harvard University Library, Photographic Service, Cambridge 1966; i numeri indicano i manoscritti provenienti dall’Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce, ed. R. Robin, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst 1967.
  5. - NEM: The New Elements of Mathematics by Charles S. Peirce, ed. C. Eisele, Mouton, The Hague 1976.
  6. - Scritti scelti, a cura di G. Maddalena, UTET, Torino 2005.
  7. - Barrotta 2016: Pierluigi Barrotta, Scienza e democrazia. Verità, fatti e valori in una prospettiva pragmatista, Carocci, Roma 2016.
  8. - Barrotta 2017: Pierluigi Barrotta, La massima pragmatica e il significato dei termini teorici, in Roberto Gronda (a cura di), Pragmatismo e filosofia della scienza, Pisa University Press, Pisa 2017, pp. 89-104.
  9. - Barsanti 2005: Giulio Barsanti, Una lunga pazienza cieca, Einaudi, Torino 2005.
  10. - Benzi 2019: Margherita Benzi, Ragionamento in condizioni di incertezza, «APhEx», 21 (2019), pp. 1-35.
  11. - Carnap 1950: Rudolf Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1950.
  12. - Corning 2005: Peter Corning, Holistic Darwinism. Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2005.
  13. - Darwin 1859: Charles R. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, John Murray, Londra 1859 (1ª ed.); trad. it. L’origine delle specie per selezione naturale, con le appendici e le varianti della sesta edizione, Newton Compton Editori, Roma 1995.
  14. - Darwin 1872: Charles R. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, John Murray, Londra 1872 (6ª ed.); trad. it. in Darwin 1859.
  15. - Douven 2017: Igor Douven, Abduction, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017).
  16. - Fabbrichesi 2018: Rossella Fabbrichesi Leo, Segno e congettura. Breve storia dell’abduzione, «Psiche», 2 (2018), pp. 379-396.
  17. - Fadda 2013: Emanuele Fadda, Peirce, Carocci, Roma 2013.
  18. - Forster 2011: Paul Forster, Peirce and the Threat of Nominalism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2011.
  19. - Galavotti 2017: Maria C. Galavotti, The Ghost of Pragmatism. Some Historical Remarks on the Debate on the Foundations of Probability, in Sami Philström et al. (eds.), Vienna Circle Insitute Yearbook, vol. 19: Logical Empiricism and Pragmatism, Springer, Berlino 2017, pp. 167-182.
  20. - Galavotti 2019: Maria C. Galavotti, Pragmatism and the Birth of Subjective Probability, «European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy», XI-I (2019), pp. 1-13.
  21. - Gillies 2000: Donald A. Gillies, Philosophical Theories of Probability, Routledge, Londra 2000.
  22. - Glick 2010: Thomas F. Glick, What about Darwin? – All Species of Opinion from Scientists, Sages, Friends, and Enemies Who Met, Read, and Discussed the Naturalist Who Changed the World, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimora 2010.
  23. - Hacking 1975: Ian Hacking, The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1975.
  24. - Hacking 1990: Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1990.
  25. - Hájek 2019: Alan Hájek, Interpretations of Probability, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2019).
  26. - Hausman 1993: Carl R. Hausman, Charles S. Peirce’s Evolutionary Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993.
  27. - Johnson 1921: William E. Johnson, Logic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1921.
  28. - Keynes 1921: John M. Keynes, A Treatise on Probability, Macmillan, Londra 1921.
  29. - Maddalena 2005: Giovanni Maddalena, Abduction and Metaphysical Realism, «Semiotica», 153 (2005), pp. 243-259.
  30. - Maddalena 2009: Giovanni Maddalena, Metafisica per assurdo. Peirce e i problemi dell’epistemologia contemporanea, Rubbettino Editore, Soveria Mannelli 2009.
  31. - Maddalena 2011: Giovanni Maddalena
  32. - Maddalena 2015: Giovanni Maddalena, Peirce, Editrice La Scuola, Brescia 2015.
  33. - Maddalena 2017: Giovanni Maddalena, Scientific and not Scientistic: the Rich Realism of Pragmatism, «Rivista di storia della filosofia», 3 (2017), pp. 401-414.
  34. - Mayr 2011: Ernst Mayr, Storia del pensiero biologico, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2011.
  35. - Menand 2001: Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2001.
  36. - Miller 1994: David W. Miller, Critical Rationalism: A Restatement and Defence, Open Court Publishing Company, LaSalle (IL) 1994.
  37. - Misak 2004: Cheryl J. Misak, Truth And The End Of The Inquiry. A Peircean Account Of Truth, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004.
  38. - Mura 2017: Alberto Mura, Pragmatismo e abduzione, in Roberto Gronda (a cura di), Pragmatismo e filosofia della scienza, Pisa University Press, Pisa 2017, pp. 105-142.
  39. - Oleksy 2015: Mateusz W. Oleksy, Realism and Individualism. Charles S. Peirce and the Threat of Modern Nominalism, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam 2015.
  40. - Popper 1957: Karl R. Popper, The Propensity Interpretation of the Calculus of Probability, and the Quantum Theory, in Stephen Körner (ed.), Observation and Interpretation, Butterworths, Londra 1957, pp. 65-70.
  41. - Popper 1959: Karl R. Popper, The Propensity Interpretation of Probability, «British Journal for the Philosophy of Science», 10 (1959), pp. 25-42.
  42. - Porter 1986: Theodore Porter, The Rise of Statistical Thinking. 1820-1900, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1986.
  43. - Psillos 2011: Stathis Psillos, An Explorer upon Untrodden Ground: Peirce on Abduction, in Dov M. Gabbay, Stephan Hartmann e John Woods (eds.), Handbook of the History of Logic, vol. 10: Inductive Logic, North Holland, Amsterdam 2011, pp. 117-151.
  44. - Reynolds 2002: Andrew Reynolds, Peirce’s Scientific Metaphysics. The Philosophy of Chance, Law and Evolution, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville 2002.
  45. - Russett 1976: Cynthia E. Russett, Darwin in America. The Intellectual Response 1865 – 1912, W. H. Freeman & Company, San Francisco 1976.
  46. - Sini 1972: Carlo Sini, Il pragmatismo americano, Laterza, Bari 1972.
  47. - Sini 2000: Carlo Sini, Idoli della conoscenza, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano 2000.
  48. - Skagestad 1979: Peter Skagestad, C. S. Peirce on Biological Evolution and Scientific Progress, «Synthese», 41 (1979), pp. 85-114.
  49. - Vecchio 2003: Sebastiano Vecchio, Provarci e riuscirci. Aspetti del conoscere in Peirce, «Segno», 247-248 (2003), pp. 93-108.
  50. - Vecchio 2005: Sebastiano Vecchio, La puffa di Babele, Bonanno, Acireale-Roma 2005.
  51. - Vecchio 2018: Sebastiano Vecchio, Il guessing come lume naturale. Credenza e verità in Peirce, «Siculorum Gymnasium», LXXI (2018), 4, pp. 95-112.
  52. - West, Anderson 2016: Donna E. West, Myrdene Anderson (eds.), Consensus on Peirce’s Concept of Habit. Before and Beyond Consciousness, Springer, Berlino 2016.
  53. - Wiener 1969: Philip P. Wiener, Evolution and the Founders of Pragmatism, Harper & Row, New York 1969.
  54. - Yu, Zenker 2017: Shiyang Yu, Frank Zenker, Why Abduction Isn’t IBE. A Scheme and Critical Questions for Abductive Argument, «Argumentation», 32 (2017), 4, pp. 569-587.

Claudio Davini, Charles S. Peirce and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Some Remarks On a Possible Misunderstanding in "RIVISTA DI STORIA DELLA FILOSOFIA" 2/2021, pp. 221-250, DOI:10.3280/SF2021-002002


FrancoAngeli is a member of Publishers International Linking Association a not for profit orgasnization wich runs the CrossRef service, enabing links to and from online scholarly content