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Charles Peirce’s “The Doctrine of Necessity Examined”

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  1. Introduction
  2. Charles Peirce's ?The Doctrine of Necessity Examined?
  3. Analysis
  4. Conclusion

Against absolute chance is inconceivable' is the third argument examined by Charles S. Peirce in ?The Doctrine of Necessity Examined?. Necessitarianism or Determinism is a principle that refuses all simple possibility, and affirms that there is exactly a single way in which the world can be. Determinism refers to the philosophical theory which states that all man's capability of conscious choice, decision, and intention is invariably determined by circumstances that circumstances that existed before (Maher). This theory is in opposition of the philosophical system of free will or discretion.

Charles S. Peirce wonders whether we necessarily have to see or notice signal effects of some element that may have happened by pure chance so that to ascertain that real chance exists. He wonders whether there are some occurrences or effects that may have gone unnoticed or unobserved. He gives an example of how physicists claim that gas particles move about randomly, considerably as if by pure chance, and that by the assumption of probabilities, there certainly will be situations contrary to the second law of thermodynamics whereby concentrations of heat in the gases lead to explosive mixtures, which must at the time have tremendous effects.

[...] Peirce about this issue is that he is not of the belief that there is any person who can ascertain that the precise, universal compliance of facts to natural law is proved evidently, or depicted particularly possible, by any observations made so far. He noted that those in support of the doctrine of exact regularity used hypotheses other than proven experimental result of facts to support their arguments. He, therefore, dismissed this notion as it shows high levels of poor reasoning. Charles affirms that, sometimes people cannot help to believe a given proposition. [...]


[...] The word has many meanings depending with the context of usage. Those who support this notion are usually unable to tell what exactly they mean when they claim chance is inconceivable. The author also claims that should they say what they mean, it would easily be found that their reason is insufficient or that they are in a state of being unable to conceive. This, therefore, does not prove that chance does not exist. Finally, Charles examined the argument that claims chance is not clearly understood or expressed. [...]


[...] They would say that things were like that a result of pure chance. However, today, we can surely give a scientific explanation to these phenomena and many others which were mysterious to people of the old times. Maybe, sooner or later, we shall get answers to questions that are still unanswered about different phenomena to prove that they did not just happen by sheer chance. In conclusion, I find it important to note that the debate on free will vs. [...]

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