Many philosophers hold that Philosophy should learn at least something from the spectacular success of the natural sciences since the 17th century. Yet what exactly should be learned, and how after this learning Philosophy would continue to be practiced, is still contested. Disappointment with the rich suite of ‘human things’ dismissed by philosophers seeking to be ‘more scientific’ has recently produced influential calls for a liberal naturalism. Thus de Caro and Voltolini urge, “there may be philosophically legitimate entities that are… ineliminable and…not only irreducible to scientifically accountable entities but also ontologically independent from them” (2010, p. 70) .
Whilst applauding such broad-mindedness, as a philosopher not a scientist I seek a logical not an ontological solution to this problem. I draw on Charles Peirce's pragmatist semiotics to reconceive ‘objectivity’ in a more open-minded and fallibilist manner than standard naturalisms, whereby the true key to science’s success lies in an indexical normative pragmatics which does not represent the world so much as provide a guiding function for a flow of experiences .At this point, the key question of naturalism concerning a given discourse becomes merely: Is what you're talking about a reflection of your own idiosyncracies – or can the object itself guide your thoughts about it – in other words, does it have a nature?
Catherine Legg is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University(Melbourne, Australia). She completed her PhD at Australian National University with a thesis on the implications of Charles Peirce’s three fundamental categories for realism. Her research builds bridges between Peirce’s thought and mainstream analytic philosophy regarding philosophical methodology, truth,meaning, and founding logic in diagrammatic reasoning. She also has research interests in computer science in the area of formal ontology.