Richard Swedberg

On Charles S. Peirce's Lecture "How to Theorize" (1903)



As part of the larger project of trying to revitalize social theory by drawing attention to theorizing, I analyze the views of philosopher Charles S. Peirce on this topic. I take my departure in his 1903 lecture called "How to Theorize" and note that for Peirce theorizing was closely linked to his concept of abduction. In analyzing this central concept in Peirce's work, I suggest that we may want to look at it especially from a practical point of view. More precisely, what can we learn from Peirce in terms of concrete tips and suggestions for how we ourselves should go about theorizing? I also supplement the material from the 1903 lecture with what can be found in Peirce's later writings.


  • Theory
  • social theory
  • theorizing
  • Peirce
  • Charles S.
  • abduction


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