The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 38, Issue 1/4, 2022

Martin Macháček
Pages 115-138

The Indeterminacy of Reality and the Fallibility of Science

According to Charles Sanders Peirce, a thing does not need to be fully determined to be real. It becomes known to us as real in a process of indeterminate inference. We acquire knowledge of the real through cognition as a not-fully-determined sign, and because of this, our knowledge about the world is always fallible. Theories do not need infallibility in order to be established—they are accepted in a provisional manner, and this acceptance is a matter of the action of scientists who use empirical induction to filter hypotheses in an attempt to explain the world. Facts are not (yet) fully “saturated” so to speak, and this possibility of saturation moves forward in an indefinite process of inquiry. In this paper, I use the example of objective-reality determinism presented in a historical discussion concerning quantum entanglement. I try to interpret the metaphysical positions of the participants of this discussion in terms of indeterminism and Peircean semiotics. The underlying thought behind this approach is the belief that reality, within objective-reality determinism, is independent of any theory, i.e., independent of its representation, which is a proposition that is not in accordance with a fundamental semiotic position according to which reality is the true character of objects in representation.