The Philosophy of Charles Peirce

My primary efforts in philosophy have been to both interpret the work of Charles Peirce (1839-1914) and apply it to contemporary problems in philosophy.

I’m currently working on a piece with Neil W. Williams on Peirce and William James’s complementary accounts of religious belief, understood as vague hypothesis (see the slides, linked above.)

Catherine Legg and I have recently applied Peirce’s theory of habit and his generalised account of the proposition (the ‘dicisign’) to contemporary arguments over the relative status of knowledge that a proposition is true and knowing how to perform actions. We argue that Peirce’s position, by naturalising the proposition in a thorough-going way, manages to maintain the benefits of both intellectualism and anti-intellectualism.

My doctoral thesis develops an account of the role of Peirce’s metaphysics within his system and argues that there is room for something like Peircean metaphysics in contemporary pragmatism. I recently completed a piece comparing my account of Peirce with that of Christopher Hookway for an upcoming volume in his honour. A pre-publication version can be downloaded here.

On the pure interpretation side, my MA thesis, carried out at the University of Waikato under Catherine Legg, attempts to understand Peirce’s distinction between theory and practice through the lens of his account of habit.

Joshua Wilson Black
Joshua Wilson Black

My research spans philosophy, linguistics, data science, and digital humanities. In all these fields, I seek insight into sign use and how it fits in to our picture of the wider world.