The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Fallibilism, Continuity, and Evolution [R]’


To return to our friends the Conservatives; these ladies and gentlemen will tell me this doctrine of fallibilism can never be admitted because the consequences from it would undermine Religion. I can only say I am very sorry. The doctrine is true; – without claiming absolute certainty for it, it is substantially unassailable. And if its consequences are antagonistic to religion, so much the worse for religion. At the same time, I do not believe they are so antagonistic. The dogmas of a church may be infallible – infallible in the sense in which it is infallibly true that it is wrong to murder and steal – practically and substantially infallible. But what use a church could make of a mathematical infallibility, I fail to see.

1893 [c.]
CP 1.151
‘Fallibilism’ (pub. 08.01.13-17:30). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Jan 08, 2013, 17:30 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Oct 07, 2018, 17:25 by Mats Bergman