Realism, Logic, and Social Communication

C.S. Peirce’s classification of science in communications studies and journalism.


Arnold Shepperson


Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies

University of Natal

Durban 4041

South Africa.


Tel: +27 31 260 2505

Fax: +27 31 260 1519

E-mail: sheppers@nu.ac.za




The nature of communications study discourse tends to focus on how to teach it, and often hides its pragmatic origins in the field of inquiry.  The paper uses C.S. Peirce’s philosophical realism to address the needs of intellectual inquiry in communications under increasing social and political globalization.  Journalism, Media and Communications (JMC) studies are treated as institutional functions within a changing, and often shrinking, social realm.  I conclude that the environment of social and political change in South Africa offers JMC practitioners a good opportunity for reconceptualising their relationships with other practitioners in the changing social realm of post-modernity.




This paper could not have been prepared without the patience and support of Professor Keyan Tomaselli.  I am especially indebted to the contributors to the Peirce-L discussion forum, whose constant constructive and helpful contributions to various discussion threads both clarified the topic, and also introduced issues of which I might have been unaware because of my somewhat limited resources.   Special thanks are owed to the faculty of the Institute for the Study of Pragmaticism at Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX., for making available unpublished papers by Peirce.  Similarly, to the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University for permission to cite from this material.  I am also grateful to the National Research Foundation, and the Research Office of the University of Natal, for support at crucial junctures.




1. Introduction


2. Hannah Arendt and the Social Realm


3. The Social Realm and the Nominalist Tradition of Modernity.


4. C.S. Peirce’s Conception of the Normative Sciences


5. The Basis for Classifying Journalism, Media and Communication


6. The Pragmatic Relationship Between Journalism and Media


7. Media Products and Their Communicative Potential


8. Communication and the Logic of the Social Realm


9. The Social Realm as an Institution of General Sociological Inquiry


10. The Normative Constitution of Communications Institutions


11. Towards an Integrated Approach to Media Inquiry in the Social Realm


12. Conclusion




1. Introduction.


This paper outlines the pragmatic concepts within which the family of practices that fall under the collective rubric of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMC) inquiry might be viewed as being simultaneously distinct and presuppositionally related.  The project is not essentially new in its conception – after all, the research report to which the present document is appended is itself based on the assumption of some measure of cognitive resonance between the three practices – but this kind of approach is not generally applied to the field of inquiry in JMC.  For the present I will treat JMC (whether in its professional or academic modes) as a general class of social significatory practice that is inherent to the kind of social order within which there is no overt legislative limitation on the capacity for its members to read and write.  This effectively socio-political approach does not exclude JMC practice under more restrictive legislative or statutory circumstances, because under such conditions governments and ruling groups still tend to claim allegiance to the `free’ model.


I will treat general JMC practice as proceeding from three broad, if not deliberately vague, assumptions.  The first is that modern societies make certain more or less vague or explicit claims about the qualities of the human condition.  The second is that the kind of society in which it operates makes claims about, and observes (even if in the breach), certain more or less explicit norms concerning its members’ and institutions’ general conduct.  Thirdly, there is a set of more or less vague claims to which these societies subscribe about the ways their relations with the world should or should not be.  The qualifier “vague” is not used pejoratively: it simply means that in the everyday run of things nobody expects their fellow citizens to provide precise meanings for predicative concepts like “is right”, “is fair”, “is true”, and so on.  As D.A. Masolo (1994: 102) has rather acerbically (but never the less accurately) noted, it “would be naive assume that language was made for the philosophical mind only, or that stupid people who nevertheless can talk and who speak grammatically are also philosophers.”  But this does not exempt the person who wants to inquire into the realities of specific areas of conduct, as I construe the institutions of JMC to be, from seeking to make these terms more precise from the point of view of their logic in the explication of these realities.  In short, I am subscribing to C.S. Peirce’s position that there are “real vagues” that are operative independently in the universe (Peirce:  MSS 151, 288; CP 5.505; EP 2: 345, 351, 395).[1]


My paper is effectively an assertion about the relation between the modern social realm and the professional and academic forms of inquiry that may or may not fall under the disciplinary rubric of JMC.  As an assertion, it is presented with the understanding that I am taking a certain responsibility toward the more or less vague readership towards whom it is addressed.  This responsibility covers such obligations as: making my statements as precise as I can; keeping my language as clear as possible; avoiding assumptions that others may find difficult to support in their context of reading; being clear about both what I am including and excluding from consideration; and so on.  Many of these obligations will only be met in the reading, and therefore the paper is in effect not a statement of fact in itself, but an invitation, in the Socratic sense, to maintain an open line of inquiry about certain facets of the realities of JMC.  As such, then, I make and try to defend certain assertions about the historical, statistical and logical nature of the institutions, and institutional context, of JMC in general, and in the South African context.


I also make certain assertions about the nature of these contexts, based rather narrowly on the work of Hannah Arendt (1958), and on a restricted selection of her interpreters and critics.  In doing so I have left out much discussion about alternative conceptions of modern society like those of Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, Giddens, and others.  This omission is partly because of the time limits placed on the project for which this paper was produced, but also because of the tendency for `interdisciplinary’ programmes to curtail study of the core theories and theorists of the disciplines from which such programmes draw their research expertise.  There is a tendency in the post-ideological academy to shift `interdisciplinarity’ from the research arena and turn it into a teaching strategy; although I do not confront this directly on this occasion, I take the position that such a strategy short-changes both older and future generations (see Tomaselli 2000: 87-8).  Another omission is discussion of the present forms of pragmatism found in the academic realm.  This is largely because high-profile pragmatists like Rorty and Goldberg are already well-enough known, because of their prominence in philosophical and legal undergraduate curricula respectively.   Also, developments after World War II tended to marginalise earlier pragmatists like William James, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, Charles Morris, D.T. Suzuki and Alain Locke in favour either of more functional or structural approaches, on the one hand, or of critical and interpretive models on the other.  Instead, I draw on an even more marginal tradition, that of C.S. Peirce, who, as I have already noted, is still owed a serious scholarly edition of his oeuvre.  This is because the tendency of contemporary pragmatism is to adopt and refine the nominalism of the 20th century traditions based on either Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica, or on the hermeneutic phenomenology that in the main followed Heidegger.  Peirce, on the other hand, developed a strictly realist philosophy the import of which is still fully to be grasped.


The paper is structured as follows:


Section 2:  Hannah Arendt and the Social Realm introduces a way of conceiving the social realm as a particularly modern accomplishment.  I do not discuss in any detail the continuity between the social realm and the forms of sociality possible under historically pre-modern conditions, although I do allude to these in Arendt’s analysis of the concept.


Section 3:  The Social Realm and the Nominalist Tradition of Modernity considers how Arendt’s approach, and those of her followers and interpreters, tends to remain within the nominalist philosophy of the modern era.  I note the influence of Thomas Hobbes and J-J Rousseau in this regard, and also relate this tradition to the pragmatism of the early 20th century.  I contrast the latter with the tradition upon which Peirce developed his version of pragmatism.


Section 4:  C.S. Peirce’s Conception of the Normative Sciences draws on various documents to introduce Peirce’s presuppositional classification of the sciences.  This section stresses the role of ethics and aesthetics as presuppositionally prior to logic, and therefore to the methods of the scientific disciplines.


Section 5:  The Basis for Classifying Journalism, Media and Communication shifts focus from the general to the particular, drawing on the actual practices of JMC institutions to present the basis for classifying the disciplines of the JMC sector.  Further drawing on Peirce’s method of classifying the special sciences, the analysis goes on to suggest a possible presuppositional classification of media and journalism inquiry.


Section 6:  The Pragmatic Relationship Between Journalism and Media returns to the historical development of the social realm.  It is argued here that journalism and media must be treated pragmatically as having evolved out of the historical trajectory of the social realm.  This is based on the technical conception of a media or channel in Shannon’s (1947) mathematical theory of communication.


Section 7:  Media Products and Their Communicative Potential shifts attention to the context of how JMC products (in this case, I use the newspaper as the most historically relevant example) are consumed and distributed in everyday terms.  The ways of encountering the `average reader’ cannot cover all the many contexts of news consumption, and hence the ways that actual readers  interpret messages.  I suggest that the focus of media studies must be on the medium proper, as the means of distribution of messages, and not on the messages themselves.


Section 8:  Communication and the Logic of the Social Realm shifts focus from the rather singular context of consumption, back to the general.  Returning the Peirce, I consider his later approach to the classification of the logical syllogism, and especially his classification of induction.  In particular, I note that the nature of the social realm is such that from the point of view of general sciences it is not possible to use inductive methods that rely on probabilities.  This is because the persons, collections and institutions that make up the social realm do not constitute a collection that can be validly sampled statistically.


Section 9:  The Social Realm as an Institution of General Sociological Inquiry brings together previous material to suggest that the fundamental unit of social inquiry as both agent and subject, is the social realm itself.


Section 10:  The Normative Constitution of Communications Institutions expands on the conclusion of the previous section to offer a more comprehensive analysis of how the practitioners and institutions of JMC actually test and continue the normative assertions embodied in any working social realm.  Referring to the relation between habits and beliefs, and Peirce’s conception of this relation, I propose that JMC institutions (both professional and academic) are always the experimental and experiential institutions whereby societies can modify the hypotheses that they enshrine in their social realms.


Section 11:  Towards an Integrated Approach to Media Inquiry in the Social Realm integrates all the foregoing into Peirce’s classification of the normative sciences, such that the logic of both professional and academic JMC inquiry conforms to his conception of science as a social endeavour.


In concluding this paper I make no claim that there is any special ethics or aesthetics that applies to JMC, however.  Instead, I will have argued that there is a special logical flavour to JMC inquiry that may, on occasion, make it part of the general activity of inquiry to establish with more precision just what ethical – and by presupposition, aesthetical – considerations may actually be operative in a situation.



2. Hannah Arendt and the Social Realm.


For Hannah Arendt (1958), the idea of the social realm evolved along with the early Enlightenment’s curious collapsing-together of the notions of wealth and property.  All forms of human activity have, since Adam Smith at least, been classified as one or other distinction of the concept of Labour:  be it the distinction between skilled and unskilled, productive and unproductive, or between mental and manual.  The fact that all modern labour takes place in a world composed of those objects that are the outcomes of human work is hardly accounted for at all (Arendt 1958:  93-6).   Arendt concludes that almost all modern political thinking has sought to justify the appropriation of church property during the Reformation by creating theories of value that reduce all forms of the active life to the category of labour.  In the field of political economy, this is not an entirely unjustified assertion; but Arendt is writing as a political theorist, and her interpretation seems to miss the fact that early liberal theorists (in particular John Locke) were more concerned to develop a labour_based theory of property in defiance of the divine_right theories justifying aristocratic land rights.  Arendt (1958: 255-6) does not, careful scholar that she was, ignore the contemporary collapsing together of the concepts of property and wealth inherent in the rise of political economy:


... appropriation did not come to an end with the satisfaction of wants and desires; capital accumula­tion, therefore, did not lead to the stagnation we know from rich empires prior to modern age, but spread through society and initiated a steadily increasing flow of wealth.  But this process, which indeed is the “life process of society,” as Marx used to call it, and whose wealth-producing capacity can be compared only with the fertility of natural processes where the creation of one man and one woman would suffice to produce by multiplication any given number of human beings, remains bound to the principle of world alienation from which it sprang; the process can continue only provided that no worldly durability and stability is permitted to interfere, only as long as all worldly things, all end products of the production process, are fed back into it at an ever-increasing speed.


At the same time, this reduction has the further effect of reducing value to the labouring organism’s “possession of a body and his indisputable ownership of the strength of this body, what Marx called `labour power’”  (Arendt 1958: 70).


For the purposes of this paper, however, it is worth asking whether these considerations justify her further conclusion (1958: 40) that “it is decisive that society, on all its levels, excludes the possibility of action.”  Roughly, Arendt reasons as follows:


(1) the rationalization of labour has forced theorists to restrict wealth to the exertion of the labouring body;

(2) in so doing, the rational ordering of society has reduced all men to act as slaves; therefore,

(3) citizens in the modern social realm of rationalized labour are forced into their individuality, such that the only space within which they can act as persons is in the realm of intimacy (Arendt 1958: 38).


What this is meant to suggest is that people have no space in which to present themselves and their interests and argue in persuading their fellows to undertake new courses of action.  To push Arendt's logic through to the field of mediated social messages, it follows that there is no place in which modern people are free of the commoditized signs of the social realm.  The world is perfused with technical means that bring these signs into the intimate realm:  radio, television, the more recently internet.  As those who produce these items have made them more and more like commodities for individual consumption, so the increasing personalization of communications devices has made ever more singular messages possible.  Arendt relies on the demonstrative persuasiveness of necessary reasoning to make her point, which is (logically) that socializing the means of meeting the necessity of bodily reproduction, is conclusively to enforce a special kind of conformist (that is to say, slave-like) conduct.  People must conform to becoming mere means to the already_defined ends of whatever rational sovereign body controls the social realm.  Be this the totalitarian party apparat of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, or the equivalent of the military_industrial complex of the West, the consequences are the same: the suppression of creative action, the marginalization of the artist, the commoditzation of story_telling, and the historicization of oppression as part of a `process' the ends of which are detached from individual intervention (and even cognition; see Arendt 1958: 296-7).


Effectively, Arendt claims that the entrenchment of the modern social realm is the result of a reduction of all social logic to a kind of formalistic syllogism based on the labour involved in human necessity.  This “necessity” is the condition of “birth and death, natality and mortality,” which are the necessary ground for any forms of work and action “in so far as they have the task to provide and preserve the world for, to foresee and reckon with, the constant influx of newcomers who are born into the world as strangers” (Arendt 1958: 7-8). All our creation, in other words, is designed to secure the political conditions under which humans must labour painfully and repetitively to ensure the reproduction of both the individual body and the species.  However, if we take a different logical approach to the evolution of the social realm, instead of concentrating only on the phenomenon of labour, we find that in parallel with the rise of the political logic of the social realm, there has been the additional growth of an institutional logic.  This, I want to suggest, mitigates the forced uniformity of the necessitarian – that is to say, deductive – logic of Arendt's political analysis, by constituting sub_social bodies that inductively test the socialized means of mitigating necessity.  Institutions for health care, education, the administration of justice, and many others, act as foci for removing from the direct responsibility of individuals the general imperative for reducing public illness, securing the talents of growing generations, keeping the peace, and so on respectively.  The social realm, that is to say has also made it possible to mitigate, by professional institutionalisation, many of the hazards that once could only be met with resources that depended on the power of individual property owners over their servants and chattels.[2]


Clearly, Arendt presents a highly pessimistic view of the social realm.  Because it is based in classical political theory, her analysis tends to criticise the Romantic elements in the logic of her early mentor, Heidegger, for whom history is the record of people’s alienation – as a result of increasing social order – from their ur-engagement with Being (Heidegger 1962: 264-8).  In the half_century since Arendt wrote, however, the political environment within which the social realm was able to operate more or less effectively, has changed rather considerably.  As early as 1963, Arthur C. Clarke had noted that the globe had become more and more subject to administrative needs.  Practically no place existed where, if one travelled sufficiently far in any direction, one would not sooner or later encounter a functionary who would demand a passport, vaccination certificate, visa, or some administrative evidence of one's permission to be where one was (Clarke 1963: 126-7).  Since then, these requirements have shifted in that where such national government requirements were all that would be demanded, there are additional requirements related to corporate intellectual property requirements, multilateral bodies’ activities, and so on.  Today, the work of many functionaries in national social realms involves administering the requirements of MacDonald's, Microsoft, Monsanto, Chiquita Brands, News Corp, and a host of non_national (multinational) entities driven by the necessity of shareholder value.  The sovereignty of institutions of state designed to administer regulatory mechanisms – US Antitrust legislation being one example – that define the limits of such entities’ social conduct, has been eroded.  Which regulatory institution, for example, is able to place limits on US_based seed company Monsanto when it claims that Indian cotton farmers are `misusing’ its intellectual property in the way they sow their crops?  In effect, had the present global Monsanto's US_based predecessor tried enforce a comparable level of compliance domestically, it is quite possible that Antitrust litigation would have ensued to regulate its monopolistic power.[3]  In the interim, that is to say, other institutions have been constituted whose functions largely negate the purpose of traditional social realms to mitigate the necessities of the human condition.



3. The Social Realm and the Nominalist Tradition of Modernity.


Subsequent thought has attempted in various ways to mitigate Arendt’s gloomy outlook on the social realm.  Jürgen Habermas (1988: 367-73) recognizes that there is a tendency to systematiza­tion in the human condition, but that this “colonization of the lifeworld” can both be accommo­dated and contested through the critical activity of social movements.  These movements constitute a forum within which a reconstructed science of language, literally a Theory of Communicative Action, provides the norma­tive regulation of social interaction.  In their interpretation of Arendt, Agnes Heller and Ferenc Féher (1988) suggest she has shown that modernity has developed into a private-social-political trichotomy.  They conclude (1988: 102-3) that the social realm should be treated as the realm of the “potent­ially political,” and propose a “politics of mortals” in which social movements have the potential to restore to people the progress that Arendt's reading of modernity denies.  As creative and rigorous as these attempts are, they remain faithful to the traditions of modern philosophy’s attachment to nominalist logic.  Both Habermas and Heller and Fehér continue to subscribe to the doctrine that value concepts – truth, goodness, beauty – operate only in singular instances.  In other words, they eschew the Platonic doctrine that such concepts operate universally – or, more carefully, are really operative in their  potential to become operative in singular instances.  The difference between these two positions is fairly subtle, but in brief can be summarized as follows:


1) the nominalist conception of value ideas holds that their reality consists in their being grasped in the event of their being perceived as existent actualities in singular exemplars.  They are, that is to say, what people perceive them to be; and

2) the realist conception asserts that conceptions of value arise from qualities (qualia) that are somehow operative in the universe at large, and which in the long run have consequences in the way it is possible to conceive of the universe.


Metaphysical realism had largely disappeared by the time of the Enlightenment.  Originally under the influence of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), value concepts have become considered under the rubric of what might be called `social’ or `ideological’ constructs.  The alternative forms of nominalism available are the hermeneutic and the analytic styles.[4]  The former developed from the work of Henri Bergson, through Heidegger, to Paul Ricoeur and later to Michel Foucault (largely influenced by the debt to Friedrich Nietzsche) .  Outside the US, and in many American departments, the latter has variously been called `analytical philosophy’ (especially when influenced by Wittgenstein), `philosophy of science,’ or variations on the theme of `epistemological philosophy.’


Today academic philosophers of all stripes seldom question the validity or otherwise of statements that instances of value judgement are necessarily driven by questions of interest.  Arendt’s successors, although striving to limit the inherent relativism of nominalist doctrines, only succeed marginally.  Heller (1976, 1984, 1987), for example, tries to achieve this by distinguishing between necessity and need.  Her attempt succeeds insofar as it ameliorates the tendency to radical relativism, but still relies on a theory of good-will, echoing Immanuel Kant’s difficulties with the Categorical Imperative with its problem of universalization.  Habermas (1989), relying on a conception of the Public Sphere (see also Thompson 1990; 1995), seeks mainly to constitute a realm in which, by means of a process of consensus-reaching, people will agree to a form of rational communicative action that tends toward (quasi-)universal validity in the absence of valid universals. 


One modern attempt to bypass the pitfalls of nominalism has been pragmatism, which sought to constitute some measure of universality in the accomplishment of satisfactory ends in social action.  Originally following the work of John Dewey, contemporary pragmatism has gradually replaced the programme that had been established under John Dewey and George Herbert Mead in the United States.  Still broadly speaking, the present pragmatic turn under philosophers like Richard Rorty and legal theorists like David Goldberg, is a reaction that accepts criticisms based in the hermeneutic tradition; this model of pragmatism, although recognizing Dewey as a precursor, still rejects the possibility of a metaphysics, thereby more or less radically relativising aesthetics and ethics.  In effect, the forms of pragmatism taught in university Departments of Philosophy tend to take for granted the Hobbesian conception of the human condition: that `man’ is necessarily driven by interests, and that it is only by submitting to some more-or-less sovereign entity – in this case, the `philosopher’ who can change the subject of a conversation (Rorty 1980: 389-94) – can the inherent conflict of individual interests be mitigated.  On the other hand, most pragmatists also acknowledge Peirce as the founder of pragmatism. In doing so, however, they (more or less pityingly) accept that he could not escape the “idealistic metaphysics” of the totalizing “Archimedean Point” philosophies of his age (Rorty 1980: 296-7).  This tends to support the conclusion that


Peirce has suffered from readers of narrow vision, so he is praised for having had this precise thought in logic, or that inscrutable idea about signs.  We should instead see him as a wild man, one of the handful who understood the philosophical events of his century and set out to cast his stamp on them. He did not succeed.  He finished almost nothing, but he began almost everything (Hacking 1983: 61).


However blandly the established academic institutions have accepted this kind of judgement as definitive, a small body of Peirce scholars has laboured for decades in “unfashionable places” to ensure that Peirce’s work has received the scholarly attention it deserves (Auspitz 1994: 602).


This paper draws on this work as far as the availability of resources allow for a South African researcher.  This includes the facility, subject to permission, for drawing on the Annotated Catalogue (Robin 1967) to obtain unpublished Peirce manuscripts where these might be considered relevant.  In the following section, then, I will provide a summary of Peirce’s conception of the presuppositional order of the sciences, stressing the basis of special fields of inquiry like JMC in the work of philosophical inquiry into normative subjects.  Peirce’s conception of logic as a normative science that proceeds from the findings of ethics, which in turn proceeds from the findings of aesthetics, will inform my subsequent reconception of the social realm as the basic unit of JMC inquiry.  This will rely on the way that the institutions of modern society follow an inductive, as opposed to Arendt’s deductive, form of reasoning in people’s experiences of them.



4. C.S. Peirce’s Conception of the Normative Sciences.


Charles Sanders Peirce’s presuppositional ranking of the normative sciences rests on his wider metaphysical understanding that logical regularity is the result of an active, real, evolutionary continuity in the universe (see for example Peirce EP1: 327, 369; EP2: 3, 345).  Peirce developed his relationship of presupposition on the work of Auguste Comte, summarising his principle of classification as that which “places above any given science those which lend it principles, and places below it those which lend it applications” (EP2: 35, 458).  In contrast with Comte, Peirce did not consider “possible sciences, but ... sciences as they exist today; not of sciences in the sense of `systematized knowledge,’ but of branches of endeavour to ascertain truth” (L75, 1902).  Although there are forms of inquiry like mathematics and phenomenology that in their turn are presuppositionally prior to the normative sciences (Peirce L75; EP2: 258-262), I will not discuss this relationship here.  The normative sciences fall within the broader classification of philosophy, as Peirce’s (L75) tabulation for his Carnegie funding application of 1902 (see Ransdell 1998) shows:


Table 1.  The Classification of Philosophy (Peirce, L75).

      Science of Research

            i. Mathematics

            ii. Philosophy, or Cenoscopy

                  1. Categorics [= phenomenology or phaneroscopy]

                  2. Normative Science

                        a. Esthetics[5]

                        b. Ethics

                        c. Logic [= semiotic]

                                    [philosophical grammar]

                                    [critical logic]

                                    [philosophical rhetoric][6]

                  3. Metaphysics


I will return later to the subsequent classification of the special sciences (physical, psychological).


As a practising and published scientist himself – amongst others, in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, and physics, aside from his numerous philosophical publications – Peirce’s experience of inquiry was also underpinned by a lifelong interest in logic.  Indeed, he frequently gave as his profession that of `logician’, and worked for nearly five decades to ground logic as a science in its own right.  However, he also recognized that logic – taken as the science of making valid inferences from premises – can not be grounded in its own categories but must rest on already formulated conceptions of right and wrong, good and bad.  Peirce therefore defines the normative sciences generally as those which investigate “the necessary and universal laws of the relation of Phenomena to Ends, that is, to Truth, Right and Beauty” (EP2: 197).


Now Peirce’s overall philosophy revolves around defence of the claim that all phenomena (that is, possibilities of experience.  See EP 2: 143) arise within three categories of reality:  quality of feelings, reaction, and mediation (see EP1: 1-10, 242-44, 280-84, 285-97; EP2: 160-178).  The quite universal generality of these categories applies to the normative sciences, their relations with each other presuppositionally mirroring the categorial nature of phenomena.  If the three normative sciences inquire into the relationship of phenomena to ends, then aesthetics “considers those things whose ends embody qualities of feeling, ethics those things whose ends lie in action, and logic those things whose end is to represent something” (EP 2: 200).  I will consider Peirce’s arguments for this in `reverse’ order, working `backwards’ from his discussion of logic through ethics to the foundational normative science of aesthetics.


Logic, in one of Peirce’s later (ca 1904) discussions of his broader system of philosophy, is a science of research that inquires into the


... the essential conditions to which signs must conform in order to function as such.  How the constitution of the human mind may compel men to think is not the question; and the appeal to language appears to me to be no better than an unsatisfactory method of ascertaining psychological facts that are of no relevancy to logic (EP2: 309).


Although Peirce wrote it as part of his New Elements of Mathematics (1976) in the early part of 1904, this passage reflects his lifelong conviction that the `mind’ is something the reality of which develops “according to the laws of inference” (EP1: 53 [1868]).[7]  Thus logic is, “regarded from one instructive, though partial and narrow, point of view, the theory of deliberate thinking” (EP2: 376).  Put differently, “logic stops when self-control stops” (EP2: 207).  As a normative science, therefore, logic must develop, and critically inquire into, those criteria that are needed to distinguish good reasoning from the sophistical (EP1: 65-72), the fallacious (EP1: 37-38), and the sham or fake (CP 5.520, 6.6, 1.128).  As I will note below, there is a special relation between logic and assertion in the role of logic in the practices of the sciences.


The ground of logical goodness belongs to the overall goodness of representation, understood as an argument.  Because Peirce’s logical doctrine of pragmatism evolved from the realism of John Duns Scotus, the subject matter of logic he conceived as those signs that are themselves independent of logic, but which are the raw material of the logician.  Thus there is a distinction between signs (what Peirce frequently called “representamens”) as terms, propositions, and arguments; at the same time, every representation develops from terms, through propositions into arguments such that all three elements are necessarily present in any representation.  There is “a special variety of esthetic goodness that may belong to a representamen [sign], namely expressiveness.  There is also a special moral goodness of representations, namely, veracity.  But besides this, there is a peculiar mode [of] goodness which is logical” (EP 2: 203).  The peculiar mode of logical goodness is truth.  Peirce holds, against the standard distinction between logical and material truth, that logical goodness is in fact indivisible.  This, he argues (EP2: 204-5), is because no matter what form of logical operation we perform all our knowledge is based on the most fundamental of logical operations:  judgements of perception.  These, he continues,


... are necessarily veracious, in greater or lesser degree according to the effort made, but there is no meaning in saying that they have any other truth than veracity, since a perceptual judgement can never be repeated.  At most we can say of a perceptual judgement that its relation to other perceptual judgements is such as to permit a simple theory of the facts ... Now consider any other judgement that I may make.  That is a conclusion of inferences ultimately based on perceptual judgements, and since these are indisputable, all the truth which my judgement can have must consist in the logical correctness of those inferences (ibid).


Thus truth as logical goodness applies to both any proposition as inference during perceptual judgement and to the correctness of inferences relative to further propositions subsequent to such observation.  As a result, Peirce concludes, “the only difference between material truth and the logical correctness of arguments is that the latter refers to a single line of argument and the former to all the arguments which could have a given proposition or its denial as their conclusion” (EP2: 205).  In effect this means that truth in general relates to inferences, which in their turn are more or less habitual acts sanctioned by the forms of conduct open to whoever or whatever it is that is drawing the inference(s).[8]


As such, then, there is a prior need to ascertain just what constitutes good or bad conduct in the drawing of inferences – and in the conduct of inquiry this need must, as in all conduct, take account of the ways in which logical conclusions relate to ends.  The general problem of ethics, therefore, is “to ascertain what end is possible” (EP2: 203).  Ethics must inquire into “the nature of an absolute aim, which is what would be pursued under all possible circumstances, – that is, even though the contingent facts ascertained by the special sciences were entirely different from what they are” (EP2: 202).  Because the meaning of any “ultimate aim” “consists in how it might cause us to act, it is plain that this `how’ cannot refer to the description of the action as having this or that aim” (ibid).  Therefore, in order to understand this conception of ethics,


... it is incumbent upon us to inquire what an ultimate aim, capable of being pursued in an indefinitely long course of action, can be ... In order that the aim should be immutable under all circumstances, without which it would not be an ultimate aim, it is requisite that it should accord with a free development of the agent’s own esthetic quality.  At the same time it is requisite that it should not ultimately tend to be disturbed by the reactions upon the agent of that outward world which is supposed in the very idea of action.  It is plain that these two conditions can be fulfilled at once only if it happens that the aesthetic quality toward which the agent’s free development tends and that of the ultimate action of experience upon him are parts of one esthetic total.  Whether or not this is really so, is a metaphysical question which it does not fall within the scope of normative science to answer.  If it is not so, the aim is essentially unattainable.  (EP 2: 202-3).


Thus the final goal of ethical inquiry is to account for some element, or even every element, of the qualities that are present not only when the ethical goodness of achieving an aim is considered, but also under whatever conceivable circumstances may be present when the ends of action begin to approximate to the ultimate aim.  To consider these qualities, however, is already to take the inquiry into pre-ethical realms, because


... ethics must rest upon a doctrine which, without at all considering what our conduct is to be, divides ideally possible states of things into two classes, those that would be admirable and those that would be unadmirable, and undertakes to define precisely what it is that constitutes the admirableness of an ideal.  Its problem is to determine by analysis what it is that one ought deliberately to admire per se in itself, regardless of what it may lead to and regardless of its bearing on human conduct (EP2: 142; CP 5.36).


It is this analysis that constitutes the business of the normative science of aesthetics.  It is worth noting that that with which aesthetic analysis is concerned is not to be collapsed into that which we consider as right or wrong, either generally or in a specific context.  If someone asserts that some thing or situation or story is “terrifying”, then it is the quality of being-terrifying that aesthetics considers and not whether this is right or wrong.  The latter is already passing over into the territory of ethics.  In more general terms, for something to be aesthetically good, it


... must have a multitude of parts so related to one another as to impart a positive simple immediate quality to their totality; and whatever does this is, in so far, esthetically good, no matter what the particular quality of that total may be.  If that quality be such as to nauseate us, to scare us, or otherwise disturb us to the point of throwing us out of the mood of esthetic enjoyment, out of the mood of simply contemplating the enjoyment of the quality, ... then the object remains nonetheless esthetically good, although people in our condition are incapacitated from a calm esthetic contemplation of it. (EP2: 201).


None of the foregoing makes it imperative that normative analysis be carried out in any order, or invariably as a complete logical, ethical and aesthetic inquiry.  Peirce emphasises that the overall result of inquiry is for our beliefs and habits to obtain conformity to something that is independent of what anybody might think (EP1: 139-40; EP2: 87; EP2: 240).


The principal conception underlying Peirce’s presuppositional classification of the normative sciences – that “logic stops when self-control stops” (EP2: 207) – requires some way of characterising that which serves as the `guiding thread’ in relation to which such self-control is defined.  Indeed, self-control in this sense entails both aesthetic and ethical dimensions because, firstly, the latter must be present for conduct to be maintained until the end ascertained as attainable is attained (EP 2: 324); and, second, it is impossible to attain a desired end as representation should the quality or qualities identified in the initial concern with ends, be abandoned in the process of an end becoming representation (EP 2: 194; 287).[9]  But meeting these criteria for logical goodness further requires that actors conduct themselves within a broader context of continuity, one in which the possibilities with which any aesthetic quality is pregnant become realised.  Something asserted to be possible, in other words, can only become real if its antecedent qualities are continuous with its subsequent development.


Such `possibles’ do not necessarily become realised in conduct in any delimitable time-frame, however.  Indeed, Peirce held that possible outcomes may take centuries to emerge, if at all (EP 1: 138-40; EP 2: 85-86): what is important here is that logic and the other normative sciences deal with conceivable as well as actual outcomes, and what may be conceivable in the present may not, like any Utopia, come to fruition in anybody’s lifetime.  Continuity of representation, therefore, entails the reality of communities that both inherit and bequeath the findings – valid and invalid – of its members’ ongoing task of representation.  Peirce saw science not as a system or as the products of some form of labour, but as the “total principal industry of a social group, whose whole lives, or many years of them, are consecrated to inquiries to which they are so devoted as to be drawn to every person who is pursuing similar inquiries, and these inquiries conducted according to the best methods so far found out” (Peirce, MS 655: 16).[10]  What this in effect means, then, is that “the limits of science are the limits of a social group” (ibid), and that just as the limits of social groups are not easily defined completely, so it follows that “the limits of a science are the limits of a social group” (Peirce MS 655: 16).  On this basis, then, Peirce considers that we begin to understand science when we examine what actual scientists tend to occupy themselves with in most cases.


In his experience, Peirce noted that those engaged in the task of inquiry were isolated from other inquirers’ findings, and often their research was “so nearly of the same nature that they thoroughly understood one another’s difficulties and merits, and could after a brief preparation have generally each one have taken up and carried on the other’s work, although probably not with quite his success” (MS 655: 16).  Individuals do indeed work in the community of research, but the community itself is constituted not by the fiat of university deans or publishers’ prospectuses, but by the reality – true or otherwise – of its inquiry’s subject-matter.  At the end of the day, then, the subject-matter of any field of inquiry is public, accessible principally to those who enter or drift into the community of inquirers, but also to those in other communities (of practice, of politics, creativity, and so on) that might have some interest in (or need to engage with) that subject-matter.


Now for a subject-matter to have the general quality of continuity across the generations of a given community of inquiry means that perceptual judgements must include judgements of the perception of quality, and the self-control we apply in this perception means the application of an ethic.  Continuity also entails continuation of a quality towards an end, however indefinite.  Thus the grounding of inquiry in the normative sciences suggests that although we devise theories on the basis of norms, theories are about explaining facts that inquirers can ascertain about their subject-matter.  Facts, that is to say, are not theory-laden, but evaluated normatively in relation to ends.  Theories, in other words, are fact-laden in so far as elements of them express qualities in their subject-matter, the continuity of which pertains to some conceivable end.[11]  However, most forms of inquiry, including that associated with JMC, are not in themselves normative sciences.  I am none the less claiming that inquiry in general is based in the normative sciences, and this requires a digression into the way that Peirce developed his classification of `special sciences.’



5. The Basis for Classifying Journalism, Media and Communication.


The everyday work of journalists, media workers and general communicators is in itself more practical than theoretical.  As such, therefore, their activities tend to be governed not by formal logical, ethical and aesthetic norms, but by the short-term ends demanded by specific situations.  A newspaper’s distribution manager, faced with a delivery failure in a certain region, does not resort to navel-gazing ethical and aesthetic analysis to resolve the issue; she or he simply sees to it that the right number of issues ordered for the affected area are packaged and despatched in the shortest possible time.  Such action is aimed at immediate and not ultimate ends.  Its logic is practical, the Scholastics’ notion of logica utens, instead of the mediaeval notion of logica docens or the formal logically-based theory of something.  But to inquire into systematic failure of delivery over a period requires that this manager must look beyond the non-delivery of this issue and that package, and seek systematic causes for the continuity of this failure.  In Peircean terms, such inquiry “discovers truth of a less lofty kind for the sake of some definite purpose, or definite possible purpose” (MS 655: 17).  In the latter instance, then, one must inquire into organizational matters not directly associated with the workings of the delivery room or the distribution manager.  It becomes necessary to look at relationships between different arms and levels of organization, between the medium itself and the affected areas, or between institutions or infrastructures at the place of production and those at the place of reception.  At this stage, the basis of inquiry must account for the ways that various factors, associated with these relations, might lead to a breakdown of some forms of conduct the expected outcomes of which are based on generally accepted interpretations of the norms that govern media distribution and delivery.


These relations are best conceptualised as the institutional conduct of persons or bodies engaged to employ some form of expertise in the function of achieving generally accepted but fairly strictly limited ends.  In short, these functions are exemplars of what Peirce calls the “Practical Sciences, or Arts,” in which physical and psychological special sciences “reunite,” of which he claimed to have produced “a list not at all intended to be exhaustive,” containing “upwards of three hundred different sciences ranging from such general psychical sciences as ethics, religion, law, to gold beating, cooking, charcoal burning, and so forth” (EP 2: 37; see also L75; CP: 1.243).[12]  These practical sciences are by and large governed by the developed logica utens of ordinarily competent people, who themselves might employ some more-or-less developed ability in logica docens when, for example, trying to rectify a situation in which something has gone wrong.  There are more general special sciences upon which many practical sciences rely, and which sometimes may even overlap with them. For example, materials engineering may employ both recondite mathematics and smelting and alloying skills in its experimental work.  Peirce, in fact, classified the special sciences as presuppositionally subsequent to mathematics and philosophy (accepting his Comtean criterion for this ranking), as follows:


Table 2.  Idioscopy, Or Special Science (Peirce, L75; adapted for tabular display from MS 655: 18-22)

Psychical (“Psychognosy”)

Physical (“Physiognosy”)







General or Nomological psychology








Elaterics and thermiotics


Geognosy (geology)



Optics and electrics




Although this tabulation might not immediately reflect the ranking of the normative sciences, one can reinterpret the classification of `psychognosy’ in the table in ways that accommodate many of the disciplines one is likely to encounter in a school or faculty of Humanities (or Arts) and Social Sciences at an average university in the English-speaking world.  Reading the columns under the `Psychical Sciences’ from left to right, “we find three orders of sciences: first, the Nomological, or Sciences of Laws; second, the Classificatory, or Sciences of Kinds; the Descriptive and Explanatory, or Sciences of Individual Objects” (EP 2: 458; see also MS 655: 18).  Although it is possible to read the classificatory and descriptive sciences as co-ordinate, each equally presupposed by the Nomological Sciences, in practice working sciences tackle the descriptive or individual sciences first, while the presuppositional quality of the classificatory sciences develops over time:


That order of Idioscopy which is naturally attacked first is Descriptive Science.  This studies Actuals, either Actual Courses of Events, necessarily past; – so that it is History, or Existing Objects necessarily existing when observed.  It is called descriptive science because it must begin by accurately describing individual objects or narrating single personal experiences.[13] ... But it does not stop here. It must go on to explain the causes of its Experienced Events and the origins of the [unclear] things it describes.  It is therefore Explanatory Science.  Its explanations are at first merely plausible hypotheses; but it is able with hard labor to ultimately to render them more or less likely to have been True.  As this order of science grows, it describes so many individual actualities that it comes to interest itself less and less with the singulars and more and more with the classes of can-bes; and thus it tends to pass into the Second Order of Idioscopy, which is Classificatory Science (MS 655: 18).


Following Peirce’s Comtean criterion of classification, then, both descriptive and classificatory psychics provide the instances and applications that further inquiry develops into the Nomological or general sciences, from which both necessarily draw principles as their fields develop.  In effect, Peirce holds that although the historical development of social fields of inquiry takes place in the order I have given, this is “the reverse of the succession that ought to hold in the study of them” (MS 655: 23; emphasis has been added).


The problem for the present paper is to ascertain where the different fields of inquiry associated with, or which could conceivably come to be associated with, JMC fit into this kind of classificatory system.  Clearly, to rely on Peirce’s “psychognosy” and “physiognosy” would be to oversimplify what is a rather complex set of relationships between institutions, practitioners and citizens in increasingly complex societies.  Peirce did not, however, ignore this.  General Psychology is Peirce’s example for a particular purpose, but he is equally clear that “we find General Psychology as sharply distinguished from General Politics, Economics, the general science of Law, etc.” (EP 2: 458-9).  Each, in turn, will have its divisions into classificatory and descriptive branches and potential sub-branches.  I would propose therefore that JMC falls somewhere into a genus of inquiry under the rubric of some “General Sociology” that accounts for the rather specifically modern notion of media and journalism.  This, needless to say, has to be clarified further both in the light of the foregoing and with due consideration for the ways that JMC academics and practitioners actually find themselves employed in their various specializations.  To achieve this clarification also requires that the relationship between media and journalism be located historically as a function of the practical and special sciences.  Just as Peirce considers that the three special sciences under, for example, Classificatory Psychology are Linguistics, Critics, and Ethnology, so it is possible to suggest that the three component aspects of JMC – Journalism, Media, Communications – might rank in a comparably presuppositional manner.  Clearly, Peirce’s original classification is subject to considerable objection; one could reject any such ordering as merely subjective; it could be objected that any form of classification is an imposition on nature or society or a community, and is therefore nothing but an expression of the will to power, or surveillance, or something similar; or one could propose that principles other than Comte’s are applicable.  Instead of trying to meet these objections immediately, I will first look at some of Peirce’s accounts of the classification of the special sciences, whereafter I will apply his principles and approaches to JMC.


Staying with the example of the psychological classificatory sciences for the purposes of this paper, Peirce’s observations lead him to conclude that they “borrow principles continually from the physical sciences; the latter borrow very little from the former.”  At the first level, he continues, nomological psychology


... discovers the general elements and laws of mental phenomena.  It is greatly influenced by phenomenology, by logic, by metaphysics, and by biology (which is a branch of classificatory physics).  Classificatory Psychics classifies products of mind and endeavours to explain them on psychological principles. ... It borrows from psychology and from physics.  Descriptive Psychics endeavours to in the first place to describe individual manifestations of mind, whether they be permanent works or actions; and to that task it joins that of endeavouring to explain them on the principles of psychology and ethnology.  It borrows from geography ( a branch of descriptive physics), from astronomy (another branch), and from other branches of physical and psychical science (EP 2: 259-60) .


What this suggests is that the conception of a free-standing discipline was foreign to Peirce, and that in the present paper’s treatment of the JMC disciplines it is well worth keeping this in mind.  But the point of first importance here is that the subject-matter of JMC learning and inquiry must not, if it is to continue having a place in the ever-fluid context of the university system globally, lose track of its continuity from the general to the particular.


I have already hinted that there is a basis for JMC inquiry in some elements of a `general sociology’.  However, this leaves the field in limbo somewhat, in that one could readily propose any kind of sociology without specifying its actual import in terms of communicational inquiry.  Working backwards from established and identifiable practices is far less likely to lead to arbitrary claims about what JMC ought to be.  Following Peirce’s classification of sciences into general, classificatory and descriptive, then, one can begin to analyse with established practices and fields.  These would include news monitoring, content analysis, and distribution analysis, all of which are part and parcel of the daily business of not only institutional JMC (newspapers, broadcasters, and others), but also of civil society organizations like the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ).  Unlike Peirce, however, I will not try to draw up a list of three-hundred or so individual practical media specializations.  Instead, it is clear that one can look at what such specialists examine, and on that basis establish basic classes of JMC.  This could then serve as the starting-point for developing some principle of classification on the basis of which to give specificity to the descriptive sciences of JMC.


In general, the various practices of descriptive JMC appear to take the form of practical rather than scientific inquiry.  Monitoring tends to use methods like content analysis, distribution analysis, and so on, to establish quantitative results for management purposes, or for the purpose of political or social commentary.  Indeed, media monitoring itself is in many ways a form of journalistic practice, in that like journalists the monitors must prepare results to a certain deadline for the purposes of institutional or civil society bodies.  The basic skills of both journalism and monitoring, therefore, involve both practical and research competence, but not necessarily united in one person or institution.  At the practical level, students learn the basic questions to be asked of the topic about which they are to report.  For would-be journalists, there are the infamous five `Ws’ (who, what, where, why and when) that have to be established for every story before an editor accepts it.  Would-be monitors will learn to measure column-centimetres, calculate text-image and editorial-advertising ratios, or record broadcast times, for others to use for management or critical strategies.


On the other hand, both monitors and journalists must develop the logical capacity to recognize trends or developments that are worthy of reporting or monitoring.  This requires a broader set of abilities than merely asking questions or measuring content.  In effect, there is little in basic journalism or monitoring that requires extended higher learning.  As practical sciences in Peirce’s sense, they hardly warrant `academic’ status in the sense that they need to be learned at degree level: many critical media scholars have noted (see, for example, Traber 1989; WACC 1984; Nair and White 1987) that mainstream communications studies has all too often overlooked the capacity of those affected by events to report objectively on their experiences.  A major part of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, for example, was that played by community-based newspapers and newsletters that were both staffed and produced by people hardly qualified academically to be called `journalists’ in the professional sense (see Pinnock 1991; Switzer and Switzer 1979).  Thus competence in the practical sciences of journalistic writing or media monitoring is not necessarily the subject-matter of academic JMC.  However, there is no reason why the academic level should not have the principles underpinning good media practice as one dimension of the subject-matter of its inquiry.


In effect, then, there is already a hint here that academic JMC has some claim to being classified at the second, critical, tier in a Peircean classification of sciences.  However, JMC must also account for cognate topics like media and communication, in terms not only of their forms of inquiry, but also in terms of the practical sciences.  In the Communications field, one could argue that journalists are at least communicators in the practical sense.  However, other forms like public relations, preaching, speech-writing, public speaking, legal advocacy, and sports coaching, amongst others, are also practical communication sciences.  These may – like engineering, law or medicine – require extended higher education on account of the specialist skills they entail; however, some skills may be learned on the hoof, so to speak, in the course of pursuing other ends.  In effect, the kinds of practical sciences I have listed as `communicating’ tend to have as their objective the inducement of some person other than the communicator to act or conduct themselves in a different way.  Although preaching on the television or public relations may not have the quality of being directed at specific receivers that legal argument or sports coaching might have, they none the less all seek to get someone to do something different, or in a way that is different to the way they do it in the present. 


Finally, the media aspect of JMC needs closer attention, if only because the term `media’ has become something of a catch-all for anything that appears to be the product of a communicative process.  We are familiar with the classification of newspapers, television, cinema, the Internet, arcade games, and so on, as `media’; this, however, tends, on the one hand, to confuse the communicational aspect of media, with that, on the other hand,  which passes along or through a medium from one place to another.  What the television set, PC monitor, newspaper, radio or other technique brings to us is not media, but messages.  We attend to these technical objects not for their own sake (except under relatively specifiable special conditions), but for the sake of attending to some organized semiotic representation that is technically proper to the infrastructure into which the instruments fit.  Indeed, the medium may not be the message; it is never the less quite decisive that there may well be forms of message which can only exist because of the media of which these radios, newspapers, television sets, PCs and so on, are part.  Media, in short, are what stand or travel between (from the Latin verb mediare) two different places or conditions.  A road, without fail, is a medium between two towns, or farms, or whatever.  A sign, or representamen, also mediates or stands between an object and an interpretant.  Media, speaking pragmatically, are logically not what they transport, but the techniques that make such transport possible.  In the following section, I will bolster this assertion with some historical considerations, if only for the purposes of placing some limits on the ambitions of the more anarchically-inclined practitioners of post-modern media studies.



6. The Pragmatic Relationship Between Journalism and Media.


In the Introduction to the paper I noted that the practices of journalism, media and communication are `at home’, so to speak, in societies in which legislation or tradition do not explicitly limit the capacity for their members to read and write.  Yet there have been many societies in history in which people have both read and written, but which have not possessed institutions that remotely function as we expect from media and journalism.  At he same time, even if today there exist statutory limits on the practices of JMC, some form of the `free’ concept of society underpins the JMC criteria openly espoused in that society.  At the present time there is hardly any part of the globe that is not under the political or governmental aegis of some state.  Barring places like Antarctica and the mid-regions of the great deserts, one could say that almost anybody on earth is nominally the citizen of somewhere.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that all individuals or communities accept this status unproblematically.  It is purely to indicate that it is possible to claim that there is at least one authority – however nominal – under which media infrastructure could fall, if the occasion were to arise that some or other information was or was not `free’.


Effectively, these are truisms.  Although there is equal validity for the counter-claim that no media meet all the somewhat idealistic criteria for this `freedom’, this still assumes some relation between some state or state-like institution, on the one hand, and institutions or practices that one may constitute as `media’ on the other.  In short, journalism and media are to be found in Arendt’s social realm, a modern development that accommodates many of the issues of freedom and access that are taken for granted, even if in the breach.  The fundamental issue that this global relation highlights, however, is the difficulty one encounters in defining media:  is the concept of media, and its associated freedom or unfreedom, applicable to one, any, some or all of the part(s) of an information transfer process?  How does the term `media’ cover institutions, products, and practices?  Are media a combination of these?  Or does the term cover only one or two of them; and, if so, how?  One way to understand this relationship is to consider just when it became possible for writing to become journalism.


If journalism as discussed here is a modern development, then it follows that it reflects features that are inherent in modernity and which in turn affect other aspects of modernity.  One aspect that stands out is that modernity and journalism share a technological ground that was absent in pre-modern times.  These technologies involve print, broadcast and other techniques that require specialist attention for their creation, management, and use.  It is the formal aspect of media technology that provides a hint, and Claude Shannon’s (1948) paper on the mathematics of transmission is the clue.  Shannon (1948) adopted the basic diagram of a control circuit to demonstrate how a message moves in a communication circuit.  As already noted, Shannon’s mathematical model of communication has not found favour among scholars in the critical tradition, and recent communications theory has turned more towards a linguistic basis.  However, the latter trend still uses terms like “code-switching” that presuppose a transmitter-like or receiver-like positioning of the person who is `switching codes’ in a communication context.  In other words, there remains a prior acceptance, however covert, that communication has transmitters and receivers more or less analogous to those in Shannon’s model.  In this paper, on the other hand, I am taking Shannon’s conception of a medium or channel in more literal terms.  I do not treat language as a medium here, but as a system that enables the ordering of signs into meaningful assertions.[14]


Any journalistic message has to pass through some channel in order to become communication.  Historically, journalism evolved from the regular written products of the essayists, diarists and pamphleteers of the pre-industrial period.  The fundamental technology that ensured the latter’s activity was the printing press, while distribution relied on meeting-places like taverns and coffee-houses, and various means of courier service (coach mail, servants, the early post offices).  The newspaper as we know it was rather limited in its circulation by the lack of what can best be thought of as mass courier services.  Raymond Williams (1965: 182-3) notes that a paper like The Times had a circulation of about three thousand at this time.  With the establishment of the steam railway with its scheduled services and mass-transportation capacity, and the insight that compact steam engines could drive printing presses (Williams 1965: 187; 197-200), the more or less individualistic production capacity of the essayist, pamphleteer and diarist soon fell behind the capacity of railway mail and express journals to distribute it.  Journalism as I understand the activity here, therefore, covers that specific class of writing that is fit for such methods of distribution that enables reports to be generated in a form and at a rate suitable for distribution en masse on a regular and routine basis.[15]


Given, then, that journalism developed as the kind of writing suited to the establishment of rail-based distribution, then the outcome of this combination was that the readership reached also changed.  Messages written in and distributed from, say, London or Manchester were soon capable of rapid, same-day distribution to places as far removed as Truro or Aberdeen.  But the essential ingredient in this change is the means of transporting reports, and these methods are precisely the medium, that which is placed or established between the report’s production (the journalist) and the report’s reception or consumption (the readership).  Media thus originate in those techniques – engineering, organizational, administrative, logistic, and so on – that enable the transport of mass-printed written material from the place of writing to indefinitely many places of reading.  Thus the product that media deal with is the sign, and the historical development of media suggests that they do not themselves produce signs, but merely transfer them.  All subsequent `media’ like cinema, radio, television and some forms of internet, continue this fundamental pragmatic definition while at the same time extending its purview to other ways of organizing signs.  Clearly, for example, the organized signs that constitute dramatic cinema and television are not the same as those that constitute newspapers; but the parallel rise of the popular magazine (Williams 1965: 225-6) effectively mirrors cinema and television in the same kind of ways that the contemporary tabloid newspapers adapt the styles of cinema and television to the more traditional medium of the print news industry.


The development of media and journalism as we know them, therefore, is coterminous with the rise of industrial society and its transportation technology.  As the reach of the relations of industrial production, distribution and consumption have expanded into more spaces of social life, so the institutions of journalism and the media thus made possible have expanded to fill these spaces.  But the inherent historical limit of the industrial social realm still tends to be the boundary of the national state.  This is not merely a linguistic and cultural limit, but one defined by considerations such as the constancy of national currencies, railway gauge measurements, the historical issues that both unite and divide political formations, and many others.  Despite the much-cited relegation of the idea of national identity to “imagined community” (Anderson 1983), the development over several generations of such structural and political factors results in a set of relatively coherent inherited social practices within which citizens feel more or less at home (Tomaselli and Shepperson 1997: 212, 215).  JMC-related Communication, therefore, takes place within a technical, social, political and historical environment within which citizens have inherited technical practices, social relations, monetary forms, political issues and historical narratives that they accept (or challenge) as problems that are theirs.[16]  To return to Arendt, therefore, we may be able to speak generally of communication in all kinds of contexts, but media and journalism are strictly understandable only within the ambit of the modern social realm.


7. Media Products and Their Communicative Potential.


When citizens buy a newspaper, or pinch the secretary’s copy and vanish into the men’s room for half an hour, they are doing something that comes with the territory, so to speak, of being a citizen in a social realm where the technologies of journalism and media are already accepted, or inherited, in common with other citizens.  The person buying or borrowing the newspaper could just as easily be a journalist or media manager, as he or she could be a lawyer or street-sweeper.  This is one important reason why the journalist’s audience is necessarily indefinite.  Market research techniques have, to be sure, made it possible for newspaper editors and managers to identify readerships with relatively high levels of precision, enabling niche marketing of their publications and programmes.  However, to read a news organ is not always to buy it:  a week-old niche publication read in the doctor’s waiting-room, or the daily pinched from the secretary for twenty minutes, is still being read.  The same consideration applies to the cinephile who rents Casablanca (or The Rocky Horror Picture Show) twice a week to savour its joys.  Any distribution manager will do the utmost to convince the advertising manager that low sales only seem low, precisely because periodical publications tend to have multiple readers.


However, to read articles in newspapers or news magazines is to interpret somebody’s report or commentary on some matter.  Individual readers thus make a greater or lesser effort at relating what they read to their personal, social, family, economic and other circumstances.  In doing so, reading is little more than a special case of perceptual judgement and, as Peirce notes, people do this better or worse in so far as they pay more or less attention to what they perceive.  Looked at from the point of view of Peirce’s logical doctrine of pragmatism, reading the news is a circumstance within which an interpretation might conceivably have a greater or lesser influence on the reader’s conduct apart from the conduct of reading.  Now if an interpretation of an ordered system of signs results in some influence on conduct, then that system of signs has acted logically.[17]  But it is also the case that if a sign elicits an influence on conduct within a community (no matter how `imagined’), then that sign has communicated to the extent that any demonstrable influence on conduct falls within the conceivably valid conclusions of the inferences possible from the indefinitely many possible perceptual judgements that constitute the indefinitely many interpretations readers may make.


Media studies specialists may find that these indefinitely many interpretations and their negligible influence on people’s overall conduct `proves’ that media do not communicate.  But does this kind of finding take into account the extent to which the content of a report elicits as an influence the heightening of a reader’s attention to the content?  If this occurs during the twenty minutes that a reader is in the toilet glancing through a newspaper purloined from the secretary, then already the act of paying attention under these circumstances is an instance of communication.  Agreed, the conduct in question is little more than a routine habit.  But the possibility that the reader might conceivably include some reference to the report in conversation with others – irrespective of how others might respond to this reference – indicates that journalism always potentially interrogates some reader’s criteria of attention.


For a news article to pique some reader’s interest is also to pique some set of normative ideals, however individually or collectively the reader will hold them.  At the same time, the historically national environment of social realms entails a set of inherited ideals.  These will have developed over several generations, and because of their symbolic nature be unlikely to take on the same formulations in the present that they did for earlier generations.  As Peirce notes about representations in their symbolic dimension:


Symbols grow.  They come into being by developing out of other signs, particularly from icons, or from mixed signs partaking of the nature of icons and symbols.  We think only in signs.  These mental signs are of mixed nature; the symbol-parts of them are called concepts.  If a man makes a new symbol, it is by thoughts involving concepts.  So it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow.  ... A symbol, once in being, spreads among the peoples.  In use and in experience, its meaning grows.  Such words as force, law, wealth, marriage bear for us very different meanings from those they bore to our ... ancestors (CP 2.302)


Put differently: concepts that influenced conduct in one set of ways previously, will not have influence on the same congeries of actions in the present.  However, this does not entail a situation in which entire generations adopt any or all of the new forms of conduct that the influence of changed circumstances might determine.[18]  New generations are being born into the world all the time, and it is in the nature of late-modern industrial societies and their crises and conflicts that people tend to speak of `generations’ as nationwide or even trans-national aggregations.  It is also crucial that these changes will not, in general, affect all generations present in a situation of changing institutions (Shepperson 1995).  Inquiry into the influences, effects and affects of the consumption of JMC products, therefore, begins from the logical structure of the social realm within which pinching the secretary’s morning newspaper to read in the men’s room can conceivably lead to some change of other forms of conduct.



8. Communication and the Logic of the Social Realm.


Communication occurs, I have suggested, when some representation in the form of coherently organized signs has as its consequence some impact on the conduct of those who received that representation.  In the usual run of things in societies where media are established institutions, people’s general conduct changes in a frequently bewildering multiplicity of ways.  For the most part, these changes are so small that the overall conduct of society appears more or less unchanged.  In the aftermath of some big news event, however, some or many of these changes can be significant enough to warrant the observation that the society has changed.  But the JMC context deals with specifically those forms of conduct-change – either in the form of modifying existing forms of conduct, or in the adoption of new forms of conduct not previously practised – that arise from the products of journalism as distributed institutionally through media. In the foregoing I have argued that each of these two elements of the JMC complex is characterized by their individual formation in the context of the history of the modern social realm.  Because the social realm is, as Hannah Arendt argued, a realm of means governed by a specific form of reason, this suggests that JMC institutions conform in some measure with the normative sciences.  If the logical structure of JMC as a whole, its communicative effect in the form of habits, arises from the mediating action of media and journalism, then the actual aesthetic qualities and ethical ends inherent in the normative basis of the social realm ought to be reflected in the logic of social reason.  To clarify this, however, requires that the logical structure of the institutional social realm be outlined first.


Peirce (EP2: 94-107; 256-257; 260; 272) identified three forms of logic:


1)  the most determinate form is deduction, the syllogistic of mathematical demonstration.  Deduction can be either corollarial or theorematic, depending on the operations performed on the postulates to develop premises;

2)  induction, the logic of inferring the general from the particular, is the syllogism of experiment that seeks to determine future conditions from the present; and finally,

3)  the logic of abduction or (sometimes) retroduction is the syllogism of hypothesis in which some consequent not immediately contained in present experience is inferred as a possibility, a starting point in the inductive process.


What does this suggest logically in relation to the practice of communication inquiry in the social realm, then?  The following considerations are based on Peirce’s (EP 2: ) discussion of the different forms of inductive reasoning.  The principal theoretical issue is that there are three specific ways that we can look at the numerical composition of social aggregations:


First: a given national population at a particular time is always a relatively enumerable collection; institutions exist almost universally for conducting regular census operations to establish this.

Second: nations, generations, or ethnic groupings are also denumerable collections, in that their members are identifiable in some recognizable order (usually temporal or historical) but only into the present and not into the future, and never larger than the total number of members that ever will belong to them.

Third: the social realm has the property that its members are potentially abnumerable: it consists of collections of collections that are themselves (as the social realm) a collection.[19]  Members of one collection may be members of others, such that the total number of memberships in a social realm is greater than the total conceivable population a nation or people can achieve.


Effectively, these three ways of conceiving collections make it possible to define different forms of sampling for research purposes.  In turn, Peirce bases three distinct genera of inductive logic that could applicable in pursuing inquiry into different aspects of the social realm.  All inductive methods rely on sampling, but the nature of the collections from which samples are drawn limits both the kinds of inductive inferences that can be drawn and the scope of the methods developed for pursuing inquiry into such collections.  These genera[20] (and their sub-genera) are:


1.  The inductive classification of members within a collection, where we “judge what approximate proportion of the members of a collection have a predesignate character by a sample drawn under one or other of the following three conditions, forming three species of this genus” (Peirce EP 2: 98):

            1.1 Sampling of enumerable collections: This is the only context within which genuinely random sampling can occur, establishing a frequency ratio for some event or occurrence in the long run. By `long run’, Peirce (EP 2: 100) means that “if the occasion referred to upon which the event might happen were to recur indefinitely, and if tallies were to be kept of the occurrences and the non-occurrences, then the ratio of the one number to the other, as the occasions went on, would indefinitely converge toward a definite limit.”  Because of the nature of the collection, it should be noted that this `indefinite convergence’ does not enable an inquirer to fix any ratio of occurrences in advance: ratios will be established in the course of the inquiry, tending never the less in the long run to a definite figure (Peirce EP 2: 101).

            1.2 The sampling of denumerable collections.  Genuinely random sampling is not possible in such multitudes because there is, by definition, “no sense in speaking of a definite finite proportion of a denumerable collection” (Peirce EP 2: 101).  However, Peirce continues,


                  I am going to suppose that this collection has an order which gives it a sense.  The sample is to be drawn under the guidance of a precept under which we can enlarge any sample drawn indefinitely, and can also draw an indefinite number of samples.  Now I shall suppose that in some way, no matter how, we become assured that a relation exists between four correlates, to wit, the predesignate character, the precept of sampling, the collection sampled, and the future course of experience, this relation being such that, in the long run, the distribution of the predesignate character in samples drawn under the precept will be the same as if they had been drawn strictly at random from an indefinitely large finite collection composing all our future experience of members of the same collection.  Then, as before, we can infer inductively the proportional frequency of that character in future experiences of members of the same collection; and the induction must approximate indefinitely, though irregularly, to the true proportion.


            This `precept’ Peirce likens to the procedure for throwing a die when testing the frequency with which that die comes up with a specific value.  In general, this method of sampling relies on the repetitive application over an indefinite period of a method to a collection, with the results tending toward some proportional value characteristic of that collection.

            1.3 This sub-genus involves a denumerable series “in an objective order of succession” like the digits of an irrational decimal like 2 or π, in which one wants to establish whether or not some member of the collection occurs with a definite frequency.

2.  There are two sub-genera of induction by inference from controlled observation of regularities:

            2.1 That in which “the collection to be sampled is an objective series of which some members have been experienced, while the rest remain to be experienced, and we simply conclude that future experience will be like the past” (Peirce EP2: 103).  Thus one could observe the phases of the moon and after experiencing a few cycles conclude that the moon will continue to go through these phases, on the inference “that future experience will be like the past” (Peirce EP 2: 103).

            2.2 Induction from some observed regularity, by proposing to adopt a method of observation which “if persisted in, must correct its result if it were wrong” (Peirce EP 2: 103).  If the moon were to skip a phase, therefore, the method would uncover this and then be subject to correction.

3 Finally, there is induction in the form of sampling of possible consequences of hypotheses.  This applies in cases where the aggregate from which the sample is drawn “cannot be considered as a collection, since it does not consist of units capable of being either counted or measured, however roughly, and where probability therefore cannot enter, but where we can draw the distinction of much and little, so that we can conceive of measurement being established” (Peirce EP 2: 105).  This form of induction is not inherently self-correcting, but none the less can bring errors to light if the inquirer persists with the method.  In effect it is a method of testing a hypothesis by sampling its possible predictions.  However,


            [p]redictions are not units, for they may be more or less detailed.  One can say roughly that one is more significant than another; but no approach to actual weighing of their significance can, in most cases, be made.  Consequently, we cannot say that a collection of predictions drawn from a hypothesis constitutes a strictly random sample of all that can be drawn.  Sometimes we can say that it appears to constitute a very fair, or even a severe, sample of the possible predictions; while in other cases we cannot even say that, but only that it comprises all the predictions which we can as yet draw and put to the test.  These two classes of cases may be taken as constituting two species under this genus.  We cannot ordinarily hope that our hypothesis will pass though the fire of induction, absolutely unmodified.  Consequently we ought not to conclude that it is absolutely correct, but only that it very much resembles the truth.  In so far as further induction will modify it, as it must be expected that it will do, if it is not to meet with downright refutation, it can hardly fail that the modification will come about gradually.  We shall first find facts, reconcilable yet unexpected.  These will be discovered in greater volume, until they show that a modification of the theory is necessary (Peirce EP 2: 105).


This particular approach borders on the realm of abductive inference, in that the mode of inference entailed in the modification of an hypothesis is itself an hypothetical inference.  One could say that Peirce anticipates Wittgenstein’s remark that knowledge does not come upon us in a blinding flash, but instead the “light dawns slowly over the whole” (1974: §141).  On the other hand, this form of induction is proper to objects that exhibit the continuity of developing systems that underpins Peirce’s ultimate evolutionary metaphysics, which he presented under the name of synechism.  Although this is not the place to elaborate on this doctrine, what is important for our purposes is that the form of continuity involved in synechism entails abnumerable collections that embody generality as a form of potentiality:


That which is possible is in so far general, and as general, it ceases to be individual.  Hence, remembering that the word `potential’ means indeterminate yet capable of determination in any special case, there may be a potential aggregate of all the possibilities that are consistent with certain general conditions; and this may be such that given any collection of distinct individuals whatsoever, out of that potential aggregate there may be actualized a more multitudinous collection than the given collection.  Thus the potential aggregate is with the strictest exactitude greater in multitude than any possible multitude of individuals.  But being a potential aggregate only, it does not contain any individuals at all.  It only contains general conditions which permit the determination of individuals (Peirce 1992b: 247.  Cited in Locke 2000: 7-8).


What this might suggest is that the nature of the social realm as an historical phenomenon does not permit any form of general or nomological inquiry that relies on the sampling of enumerable and denumerable collections.  Over the indefinite course of human social developments, from the unrecorded but still recognizably human past found in paleontological remains to the conceivable but still unrealized futures open for humanity, there is effectively no fixed limit to the possible social arrangements that could be discovered in the aggregate of possible humans who will ever have lived.  I do recognize that there are specific aggregations the multitude of which in their specific contexts of inquiry will be subject to sampling as enumerable and denumerable collections; this does not permit one, given Peirce’s stress on the possible as a quality of continuity, to conclude that one can draw necessary conclusions about the human future.  We must, that is to say, continually test our hypotheses against experience, correcting as we learn from the errors that this experience reveals.  Thus when looking at the social realm as the context for media and journalism, it is this background of potentiality that must guide inquiry.  And the immediate question is: what form does inquiry into this background take?  It would seem, paradoxically, that it must be the social realm itself that does this.  In the following section, I will adduce from some examples how this might work.



9. The Social Realm as an Institution of General Sociological Inquiry.


Peirce’s three approaches to induction and their respective sub-classifications make it clear that different aspects of cultural, social, or political inquiry involve different inductive grounds for their methods.  It should also be clear at this stage is that any reasonably developed social realm can hardly be considered solely as an enumerable collection.  Given a country like the United Kingdom, for example, the closest one could come to identifying any such aggregation is by appealing to the collection determined during the last census-taking exercise.  However, this does not exclude the existence of relatively strictly enumerable and denumerable collections within the broader social realm.  But there is another aspect to this: the constitution of a social realm, especially under modern globalization, is itself an essentially experimental environment.  Every developed modern society is a more or less successful experiment that tests some asserted hypothesis, of a very general nature, about how human society ought to work.  Frequently these hypotheses are not explicitly asserted, and the social realm of the United Kingdom can be seen in this way with its normative hypotheses buried in common law stretching back for centuries.  On the other hand, republics like South Africa, France and the United States enshrine their hypotheses about the social condition in more or less vague terms in written constitutions. In both cases, the business of making the broader society work devolves more or less routinely onto functionaries; but in the latter there is far more room for administrative action in modifying hypotheses, while in the former there is more reliance on legislative action for this purpose.  In both cases, judicial action may override either legislative or administrative decisions.


Developing social realms, on the other hand, must take into account aggregations that have not inherited the institutions and practices familiar to those present in their developed counterparts.  In broad terms, most developing social realms, structured as they are in the form of Westphalian national states, are to be found in post-colonial contexts like those of Viet Nam, Zimbabwe, Somalia or Liberia.  In some cases, the relevant legislative and judicial constitutional functions are more or less in place, but the administrative and material infrastructures may be either partially in place, or completely absent beyond the environs of the major urban areas.  The principal difficulty facing these societies is that their state functions are not pragmatically part of the habits of all members of all the possible aggregations to which citizens potentially may belong.  Looking at developed social realms, it is possible to identify several broad kinds of collections in which citizens may act out the various aspects of their lives.  Although there are many other ways of classifying the potential aggregations that could constitute the sampling base of inquiry in the social realm, the following seem to be common to developed Westphalian national states.


Firstly, there are groups that remain more or less stable in their composition over relatively long periods.  The work-force at a large manufacturing concern or the members of a state or municipal bureaucracy, therefore, will have to be treated as relatively enumerable if only for the purpose of calculating accurate salary, taxation and benefits accounts.  Similarly, the registered student body at a university or school ought to be of the same nature, at least in order to facilitate the assessment of students in their growing through the institution. In what follows, I will speak of these kinds of aggregations as administrative collections. Logically, the forms of induction proper to their analysis are covered by genera 1.1 and 1.2.


Second, we can consider seasonal collections that although not long-lived can be enumerated over a period.  This would include the running total of supporters attending a league season’s soccer matches, or the total number of bed-nights sold at an hotel over a holiday season.  These differ from administrative collections firstly by virtue of their more transient nature, and secondly by virtue of their not being constituted exclusively by membership.  These I classify as casual migratory collections, and their inductive analytical form is properly those of genus 2.


Third, there are structural migratory collections that are constituted within the framework of a society’s economic infrastructures.  The members of this aggregation tend to move between two or more locations, only one of which is formally treated as home.  South Africa’s black labour force has a significant proportion of its members who fall under this class; but the collection of scholars attending residential schools or universities over a period of several years are, logically, also structural migrants.  Because of the constant changes in membership of these collections, and the many different relations that can potentially exist between places of work and home, this kind of collection is only capable of being validly sampled under genera 2.2 and 3.


Fourthly, the class of infrastructural collections includes family groups, age cohorts, economic classes, and so on.  These aggregations remain relatively stable because of their association with the material conditions of the context, but can shift relatively quickly under conditions of more or less radical change (as would have been the case during the Great Depression, for example).  Although such collections classically exist within the borders of national states, they are not readily enumerable precisely because of the fact that individual members belong to more than one of them at any one time, and often shift membership with age, change in circumstances, and so on.  The sampling logic of this type of aggregation more and more approximates to class 3 induction, becoming more markedly so under globalization.


Fifth: there are many forms of voluntary aggregation that may be more or less long-lived, membership of which may be for a limited period only, or life-long under other circumstances.  In general, these aggregations tend to be enumerable at the local level in the social realm, but in practice their sampling logic tends more to the denumerable at the general level.  Genera 1.1 and 1.2 are proper here, the former applicable at local scales, the latter more globally.


I have enumerated the above classes for two reasons: first, simply to illustrate the limitations of statistical analysis on the basis of sampling; and, second, as an introduction to the wider logical implications of inquiry in the social realm.  If one considers the latter as a collection that contains all the above collections as members, then the collection of these collections in terms of their human membership is wholly abnumerable.  All general or nomological inquiry into established exemplars of the social realm, if it to be of a testable nature, can only be of class 3.  The foregoing also suggests that if a society is sufficiently well developed in terms of both its social structures and its material infrastructures, then there is likely to be relatively well developed general conception as to what the principal hypotheses of the contemporary social realm are.  As with all general conceptions, this understanding will be vague for the most part.  Specialist functionaries in the administration, judiciary and legislature will be capable of providing considerably more definite or determinate interpretations of the relevant hypotheses.  In either case, it is decisive that if the social realm in question is to continue as a functionally competent collection, then these conceptions of its principal hypotheses will be implicit in the logica utens of everyday life.  It is not important as to whether individuals – either as citizens or as functionaries – actually conduct themselves on the grounds that these hypotheses are true; even if some hold that they are false or incoherent, they will for the most part conduct themselves as if the logic of their actions is valid under the terms of these hypotheses.  One can believe, for example, that state ownership of utilities is based on a false hypothesis; one will never the less use the faucets and lights in one’s home irrespective of this belief.  Instead, it is more likely that such a belief will tend to take the form of habits not associated with utility consumption, but in those associated with (for example) human resource management or labour contract administration.  In this sort of environment, then, individual beliefs about society as such are not determined by the social realm, but are inferred from the working hypotheses that form the basis for its organization.


However, the formative hypotheses of any developed social realm are themselves not the logica utens of the habitual conduct of its members.  They are more likely to be based in the inferences of some logica docens that tries to account for fewer or more dimensions of the human condition in general.  I have already shown how the conception of `social realm’ begins from Hannah Arendt’s (1958) formal and historical analysis of its political basis. Where Arendt saw contemporary developments as stifling political expression under a deadening rationalist ordering of relations under the hypothesis that all action had been reduced to labour at the expense of work and action (Arendt 1958: 80-1), I propose instead that the social realm is as much a tool as is, say, a pencil or a lever.  These may supercede skills by, on the one hand, superannuating the work of inkmakers, or reduce the emphasis on bodily strength on the other, but they also release time for people to write, or engage in forms of exercise other than heavy lifting.  Peter Skagestad (1993), following Peirce and Karl Popper (1972), argues that the adoption of new technologies changes not only the kinds of work that are possible, but also the ways that people using these technologies think.  They are, so to speak, forms of “intelligence augmentation” that expand the limits both of what and how we can think.  In effect, I am suggesting that the growth of the social realm not only enabled new ways of thinking, but also of communicating this thought and providing the potential for releasing members’ capacities to take on new forms of conduct, both intellectual and physical.


The problem for social inquiry is this, assuming that the following is reasonably correct as far as it goes: the social realm as a general conception is an experiment in which members’ logica utens is partly expended on experimental confirmation of the logica docens of the principal hypotheses upon which the ends of that social realm are conceived.  How, then, does one conceive of the following?


1) the subject-matter of formal inquiry into social phenomena in such an environment;

2) methods to identify and classify the relevant forms of induction inherent in the experimental dimension of social being;

3) make possible the kinds of judgements derived from 1) and 2) that persuade members to change either

      3.1) their general conduct; or

            3.2) principal hypotheses that in some way or other clash with experience in some significant way.


I want to argue that resolving these issues develops into matters of communication in several important ways.  This is because the social realm depends on some degree of co-ordination between the various other realms like politics and culture through functions like the judiciary and the legislature.  The products of these that are central communications material are records that archive the myriad operations of logica utens involved with criminal prosecution, civil litigation, parliamentary committee proceedings, labour arbitration procedures, and so on.  Individual records may not say much; an historical selection of a given class of records can communicate a whole lot.  Other records are the output of institutions in the form of instructions to the public, public relations pitches, marketing materials, advertising and similar general publications with indeterminate audiences.  The point is that a social realm is as developed as its archiving procedures, and archives are media that transport signs between times in a way that matches other media that transport signs between places.  Thus the relationship between the social realm and general communication inquiry lies in the general relation between the records of a social realm and the development of its principal hypotheses stored in them.  Where the everyday communication that occurs when managers purloin their secretaries’ newspapers to read in the men’s room is part of the logica utens of the social realm’s forms of communication, the archive of news is one of the resources for communications inquiry’s testing of the logica docens of a social realm.


The social realm, then, is that set of institutions that administer to the needs of an effectively abnumerable collection– whether of individual people, of individual collections, or of collections of collections.  Normatively, they administer in the form of a logica utens that is both functional in mitigating human necessity among those who qualify, and also scientific in the sense that every instance of their function tests some principal hypothesis or set of such hypotheses about the human condition.  As such, the social realm will also consist of bodies and alliances in the non-governmental sector, set up to address individual issues of the kind that Peirce (EP 2: 33-4; CP 1.649_677; MSS 435-9) liked to call “vitally important topics.”  Communication in this environment is only possible in so far as representations in the form of organized signs generated within the social realm have some conceivable bearing on the way that members of the social realm conduct themselves in conformity (more or less) with the premises enshrined in the principal hypotheses of their society.  But the method that underpins the general form of inquiry that is the social realm is just this: because the total collection historically must always tend to abnumerability as generations pass through societies, our capacity to make valid inferences about a social realm is limited in the long run to those made on the basis of sampling the possible consequences of hypotheses.  The social realm, in slightly misleading but never the less apt terms, is a class 3 inductive reality  in which its own administration ought to bring the errors of its formative hypotheses to light.


Now the limit to this assertion in political theory is that the social realm is conceivable primarily within the bounds of the Westphalian national state, and, by extension, within the institutionalised relationships that can be conceived to exist between such states.  All the present talk about `globalization’ is not about newly-conceived relations between such national states (and territorial entities, like the old colonial dependencies, that conceivably could aspire to such status), but about two distinct but related developments about the logical nature of which there is little information in the archive.  The first of the these is the fairly rapid emergence of institutions that, developed under new or changed hypotheses about the human condition, have taken on or evolved competencies to which the other organs of the classical social realm can no longer relate in the usual way of going on.  Great multilateral institutions like the IMF and World bank (and latterly the World Trade Organization), and massive corporate alliances in the food, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, arms and financial sectors, all dispose of forms of conduct that more or less explicitly violate the norms entrenched in the principal hypotheses of the Westphalian national state’s constitutional premises.  There is no consensus about which form of communication based on records of the logica utens of other kinds of collections that also transcend the classical bounds of the social realm, can balance out the potential for action that has grown with the new global institutions. 


The second such development stems from the rapid destabilisation of relatively settled societies under various influences associated with the first.  In some instances, this has come about as established social realms, like those of Eastern and Central Europe, have collapsed or contracted as their political support has been withdrawn.  In others, traditional societies once largely independent of social realms have had to adapt to their imposition under circumstances over which their members have little or no control.  Thus many African and east Asian countries have had to accommodate the rather rapid change in their rural population’s status from that of traditional subjects to one of citizenship.  Practices and relations that may have served previously to mitigate or at least accommodate human necessity, come under strain as the functions these practices met become shifted onto institutional functionaries.  As members of these traditional groups themselves become functionaries, individuals find themselves caught between the imperatives of running what is effectively the testing their new countries’ constitutional hypotheses, on the one hand, and meeting the needs and expectations of their peers and elders who have not (for whatever reason) entered the social realm.  In both cases, the classification of social collections breaks down.  Although people could still be classed as `citizens’ under a census, their status as groups which can be sampled validly becomes unclear.  A further complication arises when large numbers of people cross borders into other countries, whether as refugees or as combatants in the war over diminishing traditional resources.  Other complications involve migration to further-flung territories in search of work, in effect creating a classification of people who are seeking out an accommodating social realm in the absence of one at home.


These two developments, which have been becoming more marked over the last half-century, take place alongside internal strains on established social realms.  These strains are sometimes the result of in-migrant peoples forming collections within developed states – Asians and Carribean peoples in Great Britain, for example, or second or third generation Turkish gastarbeiter in Germany – or of previously marginal but settled minorities like African-Americans, the Dalits in India, or the Kurds in various Middle Eastern states.  Further strains may arise from the ways that new generations within already-established collections in a social realm develop talents and skills that existing institutions or institutional functions cannot accommodate.  Although the increasingly vocal Christian youth in United States of America may be a minority, for example, they have taken on organizational practices of the social realm in ways that enable them both to influence legislation and electoral strategies, as well as – like the anti-abortion or white-supremacy activists – directly attack infrastructures of, or practitioners in, the social realm.  Yet the capacity for the social realm to mitigate the necessity for subsistence labour is well known from the instances where it has worked.  If, therefore, it becomes necessary to observe, understand and communicate the potential for globalization to improve the human condition, it becomes urgent that the live research questions – vitally important topics – about each of these and related developments globally be viewed in more general terms.  Clearly, `globalization’ is a concept that has grown many meanings and excited many forms of conduct in different aggregations of people.  Some may be voluntary, but others – especially where people get sucked into conflicts involving the protection of transnational corporate activity – are very likely to be perfectly ad hoc collections of refugees and defeated combatants.  The issue is that there must be some general conception of the global social problem, such that the very diversity of the human condition does not stymie even the best of intentions for mitigating the necessity facing such people.  Peirce’s grounding of this kind of conception in the normative sciences, I will conclude, is a genuine option for bringing the practices of JMC to bear on the global dimension of the human condition.



10. The Normative Constitution of Communications Institutions.


Media, I have argued, are essentially the logistical techniques that people exploit to get the message from its context of composition to its context of reading without any but the vaguest prior determination as to who the reader will be.  Up until now, I have assumed - however broadly - that citizens in developed nations inhabit relatively uniformly developed societies.  This is not to say that there are no marked differences between the levels of service infrastructure available to citizens of the developed world.  But the analysis does take some cognizance of the fact that for some decades it has been possible for any structural exclusions from service infrastructures to be constitutionally challenged and legislatively or judicially rectified (even if such legislative rectification involves some fairly shabby compromises).  In societies where uneven development patterns are in evidence - and South Africa is a good example of this - such recourse tends to be available only to those who have full access to the institutions of the social such as it exists.  For South African citizens in general, this has been possible for less than a decade at the time of writing, after a history of structured and statutory racial differentiation and exclusion.  In effect, the infrastructural geography and demographics of the country are such that there is a sharp divide between the kinds of general environments of conduct that people have inherited.


The principal ground for the continued marginal communications status of the generations of black citizens from the pre-independence era, is the general geographical isolation of a very significant proportion of families in rural areas.  Let us consider again for a moment the average urban person’s access to the newspapers, whether bought or pinched from the secretary.  Most urban newspapers are daily publications that publish several editions, and people often treat weekly papers as extensions of dailies.  Notwithstanding titles like the Mail and Guardian and the Sunday Times which do not have associated print dailies, one would not be far wrong in concluding that the average urban South African, mostly white but a growing number of black people also, reads a daily newspaper daily.  Delivery takes place either by subscription, or probably more commonly by buying from supermarkets or street vendors.  Media are in place to get the publication to the vendor or subscriber relatively seamlessly, even between centres separated by several hundred kilometres.  Many of the urban centres have their own daily titles, although most of these titles are controlled by a single large press group (Independent Newspapers) with a central newsroom in Gauteng province.


The actual number of newspapers sold daily is, naturally, somewhat less than the number of people who actually read them - either in the home or by purloining the secretary’s copy to read in the men’s room.  Aside from the presence of media that provide a relatively reliable service getting paper to people, these media also distribute to communities of readers whose practices of reading are well established.  Reading is part of a routine which is itself embedded in other routines.  Nobody actually calls for the arrest of the office manager who - usually without even bothering to ask - collects his secretary’s paper to read while sitting on the toilet.  It happens as a matter of course, and frequently people who find it irritating choose not to complain because of the relative ubiquity of the practice.  In contrast, all South African black-language newspapers (the largest daily titles aimed at black readers in South Africa are English-language organs) are weekly or bi-weekly publications.  The largest market for these titles is not in fact in the areas where media institutions operate most efficiently, but in rural and peri-urban areas where structures for efficient commerce, and even basic transportation, are rudimentary at best, and even non-existent some of the time.  Often the most basic of media are not present for getting daily indigenous-language newspapers to a great many people in, for example, Northern Zululand or the former Transkei.  The road, rail, and air links that make this possible are simply not there. Thus we would say that the fact that indigenous-language titles like UmAfrika and Ilanga are only issued weekly and twice-weekly respectively, is quite in keeping for the audiences they are intended to reach.


Given this actuality; the distinctions I have drawn between media and journalism; and the general communicative nature of the social realm; how does a national academic JMC sector proceed in the post-national era?  Clearly, the actuality of the South African media landscape reflects the general division of media accessibility that pertains between the developed and the developing worlds.  At the same time, the local media landscape can be confronted within a constitutional environment absent at the global level.  In the context of Peirce’s classification of the sciences, therefore, we may consider these elements as they may be relevant to the conduct of JMC inquiry under the rubrics of the general, classificatory, or descriptive sciences.  In Peirce’s later classification of the sciences (MS 655), he considers that of the special sciences,


[that which] is naturally attacked first is Descriptive Science.  This studies Actuals, either Actual Courses of Events, necessarily past; - so that it is History, or Existing Objects necessarily existing when observed.  It is called descriptive science because it must begin by accurately describing individual objects or narrating single personal experiences. ...  But it does not stop here. It must go on to explain the causes of its Experienced Events and the origins of the ... things it describes.  It is therefore Explanatory Science.  Its explanations are at first merely plausible hypotheses; but it is able with hard labor to ultimately to render them more or less likely to have been True.  As this order of science grows, it describes so many individual actualities that it comes to interest itself less and less with the singulars and more and more with the classes of can-bes; and thus it tends to pass into the Second Order of Idioscopy, which is Classificatory Science (MS 655: 19-20).


Having developed classificatory sciences to study these can-bes, they must appeal to the general or nomological sciences for principles under which to order and distinguish the categories and classes under which these can-bes might become real (MS 655: 20-1).  For our present purposes, then, I am bound to begin with a consideration of what the descriptive element of JMC inquiry is, and how it fits into the analyses I have already provided.


At the actual day-to-day level, journalism in itself is a descriptive practice of sorts.  Of course, there are aspects of this class of practice that involve other ends, such as persuasion in public relations.  But in general, journalists are better or worse as journalists in so far as their professional conduct “must begin by accurately describing individual objects or narrating single personal experiences.”  As a community for whom one or more of these sciences are part of their “total principal industry” (MS 655: 16) one can expect that, if practitioners are sufficiently devoted to their calling, some of them at least will individually or in concert set about seeking explanations for the actualities or courses of events that they find themselves studying in order to report on them.  Thus at the level of practice, the community of practising journalists will be more or less serious about how they develop their methods for inquiring into their subject-matter.  But although the style of reporting may vary widely according to individual preferences or editorial requirements, the realities of the subject-matter being reported place some limits on the actual methods of inquiry a journalist can or can not adopt.


Keyan Tomaselli (2000) has approached this matter from the point of view that journalism requires the skills of the following types of researcher:


1)  Journalists are ethnographers. They observe ordinary people in their everyday contexts, and ask them questions about their perceptions. Journalists use the qualitative interview methods found in ethnographic method.  Journalists directly engage politicians, individuals and sources who are perceived to have transgressed certain society norms, such as honesty, equity and fairness.


2)  Journalists examine documents. They use the research methods typically found in historical research ...


3)  Journalists analyse discourse. They examine texts in context in much the same way as discourse analysts find out what different texts come to signify, and how.


4)  Journalists conduct case studies. They study particular events and organisations as examples of wider issues and institutions.


5)  Journalists do action research. They aim (as in public journalism, environmental reporting, consumer rights columns) to produce knowledge in active participation with those affected by that knowledge, and for the express purpose of improving their social, educational and material conditions (Tomaselli 2000).


The value of Tomaselli's approach is that it opens the way to look at the journalist not merely as a trained asker of questions, but as a person whose career depends on what she or he can learn from experience.  Now for someone to learn from experience means that they must undergo either or both of the experiences of making a mistake or of falling into doubt over the effectiveness of what they are doing.  As Peirce noted in an early paper (EP 1: 109-23), individuals can only recognize that something has gone wrong in this way because they already have certain beliefs.  However, pragmatically speaking, beliefs are forms of habit in the sense that to form a habit is to develop “a tendency ... actually to behave in a certain way under similar circumstances in the future” (EP 2: 413).  The point here is that one can only come to be in the position of making a mistake or falling into doubt after having already-fixed habits.  Thus the way to look at a journalist wearing his or her researcher's hat is to find a means of establishing whether their habits of research are adequate to the subject-matter of that into which they are inquiring with a view to writing a report (or feature, commentary, editorial, or whatever).  For Peirce the only truly scientific way to fix belief (habit) is by learning from experience, and this requires a sound ability to draw correct inferences from the reality of phenomena.  But this, of course, can only occur for an individual for the first time after she or he has already accomplished some habitual way of going on.  Aside from having already developed a habit by learning from experience, people can fix their beliefs in three distinct ways:


1) by authority: arising from the “social impulse,” this is by far the most common method, and has been “one of the chief means of upholding correct political and theological doctrines, and of preserving their universal or catholic character” (EP 1: 116-7).  Because it depends on the well-observed fact that “we shall necessarily influence each other’s opinions,” fixation of belief by authority solves the problem of fixing not individual, but community beliefs.  As such, however, it relies on the force of officers who themselves cannot deviate from the beliefs they uphold, therefore ensuring that “cruelties always accompany this system; and when it is consistently carried out, they become atrocities of the most horrible kind in the eyes of any rational man” (EP 1: 117).

2) by a priori means: in this instance, some individuals who “possess a wider sort of social feeling” decide that their beliefs are but an accident of their history, and “conversing together and regarding matters in different lights, gradually develop beliefs in harmony with natural causes. ... Systems of this sort have not usually rested upon any observed facts, ... [but] have been chiefly adopted because their fundamental propositions seemed `agreeable to reason.’” (EP 1: 118-9); and

3) by the method of tenacity: which consists in “taking any answer to a question which may fancy, and constantly reiterating it to ourselves, dwelling on all which may conduce to that belief, and learning to turn with contempt and hatred from anything that might disturb it ...” (EP 1: 115).


Peirce sees some benefit in all three methods of fixation of belief (EP 1: 118), especially that of authority because it trends to promote the greatest measure of long-term social stability.  However, for the purposes of the present paper, it is worth noting that any individual in an average community must begin to integrate socially on the basis of some authority present in the immediate environment of culture (see Shepperson 1995: Chapter 3).  Now in the event of practising these first beliefs leading to doubt or mistakes, people could come to other more contextually effective beliefs by employing either or both the a priori or tenacity systems of fixation.  But the basis of the social realm in which a journalist or equivalent practitioner is not that of either, because one could consider the basis of the modern era as the establishment of institutions that serve to mitigate necessity by means learned precisely from the experiences gained by attending to why previous practices led to mistakes or doubts.  The social realm, to recapitulate my earlier discussion, has an irreducibly scientific dimension.


Thus the journalist, who is going to be engaged in a descriptive practice – which sooner or later must include an element of explanation at the level of op-ed commentary, feature-writing, editorials and so on – will have to approach the craft from two potentially scientific directions if she is to approach her profession in a scientific manner.  On the one hand, one could learn the profession on the basis of procedures developed in response to validly inferred beliefs or habits developed in response to previous practitioners' mistakes and/or doubts.  This is where the field of academic JMC develops its teaching curriculum, and also maintains a research presence by tracking instances in which current practices may themselves lead to mistakes and doubt.  In many cases, what the academic sector labels “Media Studies” is in fact a form of journalism review to which practitioners can refer, in the hurly-burly of meeting deadlines and tracking down sources, as a form of critical assessment of their proficiency.  This is an extension of the method of fixing belief by authority, based on a certain trust that an individual may develop on the basis of one's greater or lesser familiarity with academic JMC as a community of practice.  Alternately, the practising journalist can, for better or worse, try out ways of getting to the subject matter of a story by inventing ways, not already in the academic JMC canon, of finding the relevant information.  Now this could be done by tenacity, an individual developing a wholly idiosyncratic method that one believes works for her or him; or, one could adopt an a priori approach in which a small `circle of friends' – in a Rousseauian sense – adopts a method that is, to them, “agreeable to reason.”  Both have been effective in cases where the `reason' in question has been grounded in some normatively valid way related to the immediate context within which the practitioners have had to confront some inflexible authority or other (see, for example, contributions to the journal Media Development).  However, neither of these methods inherently confronts the long-term potential for human reality to throw out events or processes that such approaches may be inadequate to confront journalistically.  In the case of fixation by tenacity, such potential situations can lead to individuals becoming marginalised, the stereotypical picture of the once-brilliant reporter reduced to producing ever more detached opinion pieces that become harder and harder to get published.  An a priori method that has passed its sell-by date, or is inadequate to more flexible environments, has the more perilous potential to become the basis for a new kind of orthodoxy – method of authority – in its own right (see Peirce, EP 1: 119).


On the other hand, journalists can consider themselves to be part of a broader community of inquiry that includes more than just a few colleagues in the newsroom, or friends who discuss affairs over a few beers at the local.  One can begin to grasp this distinction by considering the seasoned practitioner who has grown a broad-based set of resources and contacts over the course of a career.  It would not be far wrong to think of the little black contact book (or filofax, or digital personal organizer) as the record of a journalist's creation of or induction into the broader community of inquiry that makes it possible for him or her to report on the many facets of reality that make up any event or process sufficiently reportable.  Most Schools of Journalism will stress the importance of journalists developing their contacts, and the even greater importance of maintaining them over a long period.  But generally this practice is seen as a form of reference library, a repository of opinion or information about those matters about which a journalist does not have sufficient formal training to offer an opinion of his own.  In effect, contacts developed in this way act more like expert witnesses in criminal or civil litigation, with the attendant possibility for individuals either (a) to consent to acting as a contact to promote some or other personal agenda, or (b) to seek a public profile by ingratiating themselves with the news media to promote their personal profile among the wider public.  Yet there remains the possibility that such a contact list can serve as a community of inquiry in Peirce's sense, not because those on it are themselves journalistically inclined, but because their own sense of normative inquiry is “so nearly of the same nature that they thoroughly understood one another’s difficulties and merits, and could after a brief preparation have generally each one have taken up and carried on the other’s work, although probably not with quite his success” (MS 655: 16).  A journalist, that is to say, does not have to become an engineer or a lawyer to report on a major aircraft failure or criminal proceedings, as the case may be, but can learn enough from contacts in these professions in order to work the findings of contacts into publishable reports understandable to the readership or audience of whatever organ that employs them.  That is to say, a journalist becomes better as an inquirer in some cases by relying on the inquiry of others for story material.  Put differently, the journalist and her contacts form a community of inquiry not on the basis of specific subject-matter in their respective special or practical sciences alone; instead, they constitute themselves as a community of inquiry on the basis of that which their several specializations presuppose:  their conceptions of the ends that are themselves the subject-matter of the normative sciences.


Now the issue can not be allowed to end here.  If the descriptive sciences alone relied on the normative sciences for principles, then one would have to make a decision as to the role that classificatory and general sciences in their several branches would entail normatively.  We recall, however, that the special sciences as a whole (idioscopy) presuppose the philosophical sciences of research (cenoscopy) under which the normative sciences fall.  It is also the case that Peirce conceives of inquiry into the relationships between the different levels of idioscopy to be such that the more general sciences lend principles to the more particular ones, with the latter providing instances and data to the former.  In contrast with this, he also suggests that tracing these relationships begins, as has been done above with respect to journalism as a form of inquiry, with examination of the special descriptive/explanatory conduct of the special sciences.  But the foregoing has not properly touched on how the practices of journalists as descriptive scientists in their various specializations, in conjunction with the communities of contacts, provide data and instances for those who make it their business to inquire into the classificatory dimension of JMC.  Basically, we could look at a number of potential classifications in relation to the potential methods by means of which journalists might address their subject-matter.  There are the obvious classes that distinguish the different media over which their reports get published:  newspapers, radio, television, the internet, and so on.  There are also those means of classifying forms of reporting that are common to all these media:  political news, actuality news, health reporting, arts reporting and criticism, economic reporting, and so on.  Some classes can be quite specialised, like court reporting or writing for motoring or education supplements; others may require a wider set of contacts, especially at the intersection between, say, political, economic, science, and health news.[21]  Yet again, there is no contradiction in seeking different sub-classes within the various classes like political, economic, or arts reporting.  Political journalism  can cover local, international, national, party or civil facets of the political landscape, amongst others.  There is therefore no simple continuity between the individual descriptive practices of journalists, and the methods of classifying their many different and even (apparently) conflicting reports.


However, it is also worth recalling that journalism and media are practical forms of conduct and organization proper to the modern social realm.  In its turn, we also noted that those who decide the constitution of the social realm do so in a way that embodies certain assertions about the human condition. In particular, these assertions are about those qualities of the human condition that can provide principles in terms of which relatively determinate social institutions are established the business of which will be to mitigate certain necessities inherent in the humanity of a social realm's members.  Now there is a developing historical trend to view as a human quality the need for uncensored reports and analysis of citizens' conditions, as a requirement in terms of which they will be able to exercise the rational capacity that modern thought ascribes to humanity as a quality that defines citizens' general humanity.  This is, perhaps, a rather clumsy way of saying that modern social realms assume that people can make decisions on their own, without the need to follow commands based on the decisions of others.  Clearly, this is more often than not observed in the breach:  people in different kinds of societies (modern or otherwise) all have to follow rules of a more or less arbitrary nature, whether statutory or traditional.  However, the quality that differentiates a social realm from a traditional or customary realm is that the former depends on an archived record of all institutional activity that is more or less open to review.  Of course, it does not follow that this openness is always extended to all citizens.  For all that the former Soviet Union was a modern social realm – indeed, for many who didn't live there it once defined what a social realm should be – its very extensive records tended to be open to only a very restricted nomenklatura.  This does not, however, render invalid the normative ideal that the end of the social realm is to release its members from lifelong subjection to the struggle for subsistence by creating functions that can be carried out by institutions so that their beneficiaries can create some kind of world in which they can aspire to `higher' ends.  It is within this system of rationalizing the means to accomplish these kinds of ends that journalists and their sources form part of a community of inquiry.  How does one therefore conceive of classificatory JMC inquiry in this environment?


We recall that Peirce looks at the normative sciences as those inquiries which seek to establish the nature of ends.  Now the end of logic lies in representation, and logic itself is considered in its deductive, inductive and abductive modes.  I have already argued that the nature of the social realm is validly described in terms of representations under inductive syllogisms; that valid methods for inferring such representations must take account of the numerability of the samples chosen for examination; and that general examination of the social realm can only be validly conceived by understanding that the social realm in its most general form is for all practical purposes an abnumerable collection.  Given that the subject-matter of journalists' inquiry are “Actuals, either Actual Courses of Events, necessarily past” (Peirce, MS 655: 19), the logical status of this subject matter is deductive.  To describe and explain such events means uncovering and elucidating connections which are themselves “necessarily past.”  Yet if journalists, as members of a community of inquiry that includes their sources and contacts, are to report on the courses and causes of actualities, they must as researchers test hypotheses about these actualities in order to settle any potential doubts about them before reporting.  Thus the practice of journalism is a combination of both seeking determinate or deductive chains that describe and explain actualities, and proposing hypotheses about these which are then subjected to the testimony of sources, contacts, and eyewitness testimony to either confirm or disconfirm them.  On the whole, journalistic writing is a more or less hypothetical assertion about the logic of some actual event or process, presented to an indefinite audience or readership, that has some measure of relevance to that audience in terms of their (presumed, perhaps) expectations of the quality of their everyday condition.  Audiences of individual reports are generally assumed to be relatively enumerable on the basis of the measured circulation and assumed readership (or listenership or viewership) of the organ that publishes journalists' reports.  In contrast, the general audience potentially constituted by the social realm as a whole – including undetermined particular audiences in an indefinite future – is, as shown above, effectively abnumerable.  The point here is that under these conditions there are no specific ends in action that can be hypothesized on the basis of the individual reports, or on the present constitution of journalistic communities of inquiry.  In other words, over a long run, there is in the full record or archive of journalistic writing the subject-matter for classificatory JMC inquiry; the problem is how such inquiry must begin to distinguish the multitude of possible “can-bes” inscribed into the record.


I propose that the classificatory element of JMC inquiry begins by taking account of the generally inductive nature of the social realm.  Institutions, in the most general sense and in the long run, test possible hypotheses about how it is possible to mitigate the necessities of the human condition.  In turn, people in more or less concrete situations propose these hypotheses on the basis of some perceived or experienced quality of their being-human in the world.  Now inductively testing hypotheses about the abnumerable collection that constitutes the general social realm entails an understanding of what ends are possible in respect of the conduct of the institutions established to perform the functions over a (more or less) long run.  That is to say, the context of classificatory inquiry in the social realm in general is a fundamentally ethical context of inquiry.  In a JMC environment, the first subject-matter of such ethics must be the possible ends of institutional action.  This is because JMC itself is an institution that historically and logically belongs to the social realm.  However, as Habermas (1988: 367-373) has noted, the reach of the social realm (the System) stretches deep into the personal and intimate realms of citizens (the Lifeworld).  Thus many aspects of the human condition that form part of the subject-matter of the journalistic community of inquiry are in some more or less direct measure the business of institutions in the social realm.  For example, the intimate behaviour of sexually-active people may well be their own intimate or personal business; any possible results of infection by sexually transmitted diseases as a result of this behaviour is arguably the business of institutions.  In effect, the effectiveness of institutions in accomplishing the ends for which they were originally constituted is one criterion that can potentially direct the ethical inquiry of classificatory JMC.  Many media critics in both academia and the social realm complain that all journalists ever do is complain when things go wrong, never giving credit when things go right.  However, if the institutions of the social realm are in fact accomplishing the ends entrusted to them, then they provide no subject-matter for journalists.


Why should this be the case?  If we return to the basic conception of the social realm as an environment of rationalized mitigation of subsistence labour, then it is only when some conceivably subsistence-threatening condition arises that it is possible to judge the effectiveness with which institutions actually accomplish this end.  In the most literal of senses, if a social realm is working then no news is not only good news, but the only news possible.  Indeed, under conditions where institutions accomplish their ends continuously and without any widely discriminatory results in a pluralistic society, other forms of non-accomplishment are likely to become the subject-matter for journalists.  Under these conditions, however, JMC classificatory inquiry still proceeds from some aspect of institutional conduct, and this for a very peculiar reason.  The example of the United States before 11 September 2001 is illuminating.  Journalists did report minor lapses in constitutional institutions (like, for example, the misconduct of a pathologist regarding her testimony in capital proceedings in Oklahoma City).  But the focus of much news was on either the accomplishments or failures of non-constitutional institutions (with a high profile on the Nasdaq Index, for example), or the relationship between such institutions (for example Microsoft and News Incorporated) or their representatives (respectively William Gates and Rupert Murdoch) and the social realm.  The latter would tend to focus either on the accomplishments or failures of singular instances of the social realm (like the specific case judge in the Microsoft anti-trust litigation), or on the accomplishments of representatives of institutions (like Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve).  Effectively, these instances illustrate that under the existing classificatory criteria, US journalism had to narrow its focus down from the accomplishments of an efficient (if cumbersome) social realm to those of singular representative figures whose actions in specific cases provided examples of issues that could affect their customary audiences.  Indeed, the early focus on specific policies of the then-newly instituted George W. Bush administration (tax cuts, social funding of religious organizations, and so on) is simply another example of the same condition.  In the latter instance, there was indeed some focus on the possible effects on educational and health institutions as a result of administration (that is, social realm) policy, but this hardly dominated the news.  After the suicide attacks by religious extremists of September 11, journalists began to seek reasons to explain what clearly could be described as the failure of institutions (the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency in particular) to anticipate or respond adequately to the event.  At the time of writing, however, much journalism retains a significant focus on the doings of individual representatives of institutions, with little reporting on broader institutional performance.


The issue here is that in the context of their generally effective social institutions, little attention is paid at the level of academic JMC to those specifically general ends that define the ethical grounds for JMC classificatory inquiry.  There are, to be sure, many in the media studies field who berate both the media and the community of journalists for their lack of attention to what academics perceive to be actual processes (for example, the lack of racial and gender representivity, or cultural insensitivity about the institutional treatment of immigrant community members).  However, and without going into too much detail for this paper, much academic criticism appears to be itself a form of journalism about journalism and not a serious interrogation of the ethical criteria applicable to the institutional conduct of the social realm towards minorities.  Let us recall that the subject-matter of ethical inquiry, for Peirce, is the study of possible ends in action.  Now in the case of news reporting about individual acts and singular events that may be representative of some broader social trend or process, the ends of the individual acts or consequences of events remain the business of descriptive JMC, but this just returns us to the question:  what are the ends to be studied by classificatory JMC?  Peirce is clear that these are possible attainable ends, which he stresses must conform to precisely some criterion of `attainability.'  This criterion is a principle and not an instance.  Therefore, it would seem to follow, classificatory sciences must borrow from the general or nomological branch of their field, the principles in terms of which such criteria are to be developed and tested against instances provided by the descriptive branch (Peirce, MS 655: 21-2).


Classificatory JMC, in seeking to discover and explore the “can-bes” of their subject-matter, must have a clear conception of this subject-matter;  I propose that this be found in the multitudinous aspects of the media institutions of the social realm.  Media institutions as elements of the social realm tend, like other such institutions, to mitigate some element of subsistence, and in the most basic sense these institutions mitigate the need for people to expend energy travelling from one place to another to deliver messages from people other than themselves to other people who, although necessarily in a place to which they can deliver the  messages, are not necessarily known to the messenger.  As an institutional realm, media continue this quality of indefiniteness of the recipient of messages.  The “can-bes” of classificatory JMC are not the messages themselves, which are determined contextually, but relate to the possibilities contained in those elements of the general practice of transporting messages.  From the point of view of this paper, it is again worth recalling Claude Shannon's (1947) mathematical model of communication as a way of generalizing this process.  Many have criticised the JMC communications studies sector for relying excessively on such modelling techniques (see Hardt 1993 for a summary of the criticism), but the point here is not to create an overarching general theory of communication or media, but to establish some conceptual environment within which the possible ends of particular forms of communication (in this case, journalism) can be explored normatively.  A further caveat is that I am not proposing an alternative `normative theory of the media' (see McQuail 2000), which generally focusses not on the normative sciences in a presuppositional classification but on the roles media ought to perform in specific social environments.  Instead, the point is to establish what basis upon which JMC classificatory inquiry distinguishes itself from other forms of classificatory inquiry.  I use Shannon's conception of the medium or channel as the basis for conceiving the conduct of JMC institutions in the sense that the general end of institutional conduct in every such channel or medium is the delivery of a general class of message to indefinite readers or recipients in a social realm.  Classificatory JMC, therefore, inquires into possible ends in the delivery of journalistic messages.


This inquiry examines instances of the outcomes of message delivery to establish what actual ends are actual examples of possible ends.  The boss pinching the secretary's copy of the morning edition of some daily is not such an end; but an instance such as this is part of the indefinite quality of the conduct of media reception, in this case of print journalism messages.  I have already noted the ways that people might respond to journalistic messages in the form of habit-change, or in the formation of new habits.  I considered such changes at the level of individuals (the case of fixation of habit by tenacity) or small communities (by the a priori method); these are not the principle focus of JMC classificatory inquiry, but instances furnished to it by further reporting about them.  Rather, I would suggest that the ends to be explored at a general level are those that are, whether attainable or unattainable, to be conceived in the actual conduct of media institutions themselves.  This already, as Peirce reminds us in respect of the normative sciences in general, presupposes some quality of media institutions that must remain continuous with the conduct-changes or new conduct that are possible.  Thus there is a sense in which the exploration of the unattainable in media institutions' conduct of their functions provides a limiting context for the conception of the can-be or attainable.  However, it is precisely because the unattainable tends to be limited to the means – organizational, technical, or social – available in a specific environment that the conclusions of any classificatory inquiry must remain fallible:  future developments can rapidly overtake the most immediately intractable limits to attainability in respect of some institutionalizable possibility.  An example of just how this occurred historically is Simon Newcomb's apparently scientific objections against the possibility of powered flight (see, for example, Clarke 1963: 16-17).  A much more current and topically relevant instance of attainability is, tragic but all too real, the attainability of representation of a political argument that militant religious extremists employed by diverting an institutional medium of the American social realm (that is, the system of air transportation) to challenge the qualities such institutions were established to maintain (like freedom of movement).  The issue for classificatory JMC is simultaneously as simple and as complex as this.


Certainly, the instances of the possibility of flight, and the possible use of flight institutions, illustrate the fallibility of the conclusions of classificatory inquiry in at least the respect of inquiry into the social realm.  But the point goes further than this:  I would go as far as to suggest that the principal locus of fallibility in science generally lies in the area of classification.[22]   In the JMC sector, descriptive inquiry into actualities can fail rather dismally if the inquirer has got his or her kinds of actuality wrong.  However, if the method of descriptive or explanatory inquiry is presupposed by the consequences of classificatory inquiry, then it is clear that the latter in furnishing methods and principles to the former is where the main possibility of mistakes lies.  But at the same time the possibility of error or miscategorization must also lie in the methods and principles adopted at the classificatory level in carrying out such inquiry.  However, because the qualities of the JMC social realm in a general institutional sociology covering the possibility of media institutions does not specify exact criteria for classification, but only the possibilities (in the form of relations) immanent in the subject-matter, the principles themselves are only fallible at the level to which they fail to accommodate the real findings of both classificatory and descriptive/explanatory JMC inquiry.  In consequence, therefore, the broader academic JMC field is highly dependent on the viability of classificatory results as analytical categories.  In effect, then, classificatory JMC depends on an irreduciby critical methodology and thus depends in great measure on practitioners' abilities in the field of what Peirce called “logical critics,” or later “speculative” or “philosophical” critics.


These critical forms are not to be confused with criticism as practised in the contemporary academic Humanities or Arts, the ends of which are literary or expressive and not logical.  The general or nomological ground of JMC remains the historical and developmental growth of the social realm, and historically it is not incorrect to conceive of this realm as continuous with institutions of Church and Manor that the displacements, religious and economic, that fell away in the breakdown of mediaeval social arrangements (Arendt 1985: 69-72; see also Toulmin 1990: 56-87).  Thus although literary forms like the novel and drama are themselves specifically modern developments following more or less the same historical trajectory, they are directly continuous not with the actual social developments as media, but other expressive forms opened up as a result of other kinds developments, especially printing (see Skagestad 1993).  The point is that the general inquiry that offers principles to classificatory JMC examines the possible laws that cover institutional relations of the sort that define the social realm.  I have already offered the outline of these kinds of relations, and can only add that other or additional conceivable relations must draw on inquiries not yet done in respect of this paper.  Of course, there is a myriad assertions available in the present nominalist tradition, but if necessary others may, like Peirce, have to return to the Scholastic or classical traditions to recover realist approaches with which future inquiry will seek continuity.


In short, to conclude, JMC has three presuppositional levels of inquiry:  descriptive or explanatory, which concerns itself principally with the methods of the community of journalistic inquiry;  Classificatory, covering the possible ends of JMC institutions as media that transport-transmit journalistic messages; and Nomological, which examines the general conditions and laws that can possibly govern relations in the JMC environment.  In developed environments, a different set of issues will arise compared with those proper to less developed or undeveloped environments.  In any event, the criterion for `development' remains the extent and reach of whatever institutions of a social realm are present there.  In considering JMC in this realist context, the notion of `development media' is something of a category mistake.  Many activist media practitioners seek to create such media development projects to improve the condition of people in undeveloped or under-developed environments.  However, for all that their intentions are honourable, their projects tend not to be responses to the social realities of their intended beneficiaries, but reactions to equally miscategorized attempts of a previous generation of development media specialists.  To return to my earlier consideration of the South African media landscape, the problem that media activists are not able to overcome is their inherited theoretical dependence on the nominalist conception – much elaborated by late twentieth-century neo-Nietzschean reductions of knowledge to the products of some or other will to power (Foucault 1972; Hall 1980; Winch 1970)  – that reality belongs only to individuals and not to generals.  Thus these many and varied media development projects seek to convert `real' relations in beneficiary communities into `media' that reflect the wholly individual manifestation of `epistemology' or `ontology' enshrined in their linguistic meanings that may somehow have escaped the `Othering' supposedly underpinning the will to power of earlier development programme failures.  In contrast, a Peircean pragmaticist programme accepts not only that there is a reality independent of the purported epistemology or ontology or cosmology of marginalised beneficiary communities, but also independent of what development practitioners may think.



11. Towards an Integrated Approach to Media Inquiry in the Social Realm.


Already I have referred to the general kinds of human aggregations that are possible within the institutional environment of the general social realm.  What the foregoing suggests is that where membership of such aggregations does not determine access to media (and other) infrastructures in developed societies, there is a possibility – a likelihood, even – that in less-developed societies membership of some of these aggregations enforces differential modes of access to these infrastructures.  Thus people who are members of casual, infrastructural and economic aggregations could well have readier institutional access – and, by extension, access to media messages and a choice of journalism – than constrained to membership of migratory aggregations.  Although this tends to be more pronounced in less-developed societies where, like South Africa, there is a clear geographical divide between the developed and less-developed populations, such differentials do exist for minority immigrant or economic migrant groups like the Hispanic labour-seekers in the US.  I will return to this in the conclusion, because, for the present, I want to factor into the discussion the possible logical consequences of these differentials for JMC inquiry.


The social realm, I have noted further, is an abnumerable collection for all practical purposes.  Because of the multiplicity of relations between different aggregations possible in the social realm, which tends to abnumerability in the long run, JMC inquiry must develop the means to sample such collections in ways that permit its general, classificatory, and descriptive levels to produce findings that tend over the long run to approximate to true assertions about social and human reality.  As already noted, it is at the level of classificatory JMC inquiry that the very identification of such aggregations has the potential to lead to mistakes.  Put differently, my own proposal of different forms of aggregation is itself a source of fallibility in this attempt to re-introduce realism into JMC inquiry.  However, my classification is more for purposes of demonstration in the immediate case of JMC in the less-developed social realms of South Africa and similar regions.  There is room for considerable further review of existing research literature, and the prosecution of further new inquiry, that will reduce the fallibility of this kind of classification.  However, there remains the overhang for classificatory JMC inquiry of the crude racial and Darwinist classifications of 19th and 20th century colonial political economy, in terms of which the classification of human aggregations was the basis for excluding their members from the fruits or benefits of other aggregations.  It will not be an easy task – for JMC inquiry in general, let alone in a paper like this – to uncover all the ramifications these had on people's experience and the influence they have on their historical interpretations in communities' memories.  But the fact that the working-out of the logic of the old political economy has led to deeply inequitable consequences in terms of people's most basic expectations (like life expectancy; see Honderich 1989: 5) actually suggests that the logic of redress can work the same way to restore global equity.  The contribution of JMC inquiry to this end may not be what determines the accomplishment of this end, but this vagueness never the less has the potential to contribute to its realization.


Firstly, although institutions of the social realm are established in terms of general assertions about the human condition, it is not statements that constitute these assertions that are central to the working out of a social realm, but the inferences from these assertions enshrined in institutions' expected conduct and accomplishments.  The social realm, it will be recalled, does not reach into every aspect of the human condition, irrespective of Arendt's and Habermas's pessimistic assertions to the contrary.  However, the possible mitigation of populations' reliance on subsistence in different aspects of their lives requires a logic based on what constitutes the mitigation of human necessity, and not statements about the metaphysical nature of this necessity.  In other words, a theological cosmology may indeed justify poverty, but this does not translate into, say, the logic of class enrichment so characteristic of the mediaeval Church – and contemporary televangelists in the US (see, for example, Frankl 1987).  What is important is the steps taken in inferring from assertions based on observations about the human condition in the business of institutionalizing the means of subsistence mitigation.  As I have stressed, this is an inductive logical process, and qua logical is presupposed by an ethics and an aesthetics.  One does have to invent the maxims that establish what these normative ends should entail generally.  There already exists a body of thought that has sought to justify various such maxims, and I won't go into a detailed review thereof on this occasion.  It is sufficient for present purposes to list some of these and observe briefly their relevance for the kind of realism I am supporting for JMC inquiry.


1.  Logical Maxims of the Social Realm generally focus on the content of constitutive asertions, like “all men are born equal,” and proceed to criticize these on the grounds that whatever quality is asserted there does not justify subsequent assertions or decisions about the human condition.  Thus, `equality' may be further analysed as `equality before the law' or `equality of opportunity' to counter assumptions that, somehow, human equality should not be conflated with logical or mathematical `identity.'  But the problem with these logical doctrines remains that of establishing whether the logic in question is deductive or inductive.  I have argued that the logic of the social realm is necessarily inductive, but the problem is that although existing doctrines acknowledge the inductive nature of society to some extent, they seldom push the logical analysis of induction to the limits that Peirce tested.  Even logicians like Nelson Goodman, whose `new paradox of induction' tried to explain the limits of scientific forecasting, did not distinguish between the forms of sampling possible in general.  For the role of logic in social inquiry, though, the inductive nature of the social realm proper needs to be distinguished from the abductive or hypothetical nature of the method whereby communities formulate their constitutive assertions about the human condition upon which they set up the institutions that will make up their social realm.  By the same token, these two logical relations mut be distinguished from the deductive or determinate logical nature of actual events or processes as these eventuate in social practice.  In any event, Peirce presuppositional classification of the normative sciences provides a solid enough reason for considering ethical ends prior to positing the representational ends inherent in logic.


2.  Ethical Maxims of the Social Realm tend to follow the well-accepted distinction between deontological and consequential doctrines, of which Kant's Categorical Imperative and Bentham's Utilitarianism respectively are the usual suspects arraigned in undergrad Moral Philosophy courses.  In general, Peirce tends to accept that rather than consider ends, such doctrines focus on acts and then try to justify the conditions under which such acts may or may not be universally acceptable.  Along with some recent thinkers like Agnes Heller (1987; 1993), Peirce considers ends such that ethics is concerned with how one should act and not with what actions are acceptable.  In the context of JMC inquiry there is the need to establish not how individual or collective members should act, but what additional ends are or are not possible alongside the ends intended to be accomplished by institutions.  JMC has a dual institutional nature, like other modern areas of conduct.  On the one hand, it accomplishes ends as an institutional sector in its own right, and on the other there are other forms of institution the ends of which either affect those of JMC, or vice versa.  Journalism or media inquiry can present conclusions that lead to changes in non-JMC sectors like health, education, transport and so on, while changes in sectors like telecommunications or airline operations can affect JMC ends when circumstances – technical or organizational – in the former affect the reach of media to members of the social realm.  Thus the ends that are possible for a sector like academic JMC are very much a factor of what ends or potential ends are on offer in other institutions.  But the general consideration of the ends to be accomplished by social institutions already rely on some quality in those who will become members of the social realm, such that the ends of institutional conduct maintain this quality because of its “admirability.”  In other words, the proposed ends of institutional action are presupposed by some prior aesthetic.


3.  Aesthetic Maxims of the Social Realm can take two distinct forms.  On the one hand, and depressingly frequently as post-colonial nations achieved their independence, these maxims ascribe the desirable or admirable qualities of institutions themselves, without reference to how these institutional qualities relate to the human condition.  What this leads to is the situation where all the right social forms are put in place to take over colonial structures `democratically,' without due consideration of the quality of functionaries who are expected to get these institutions to accomplish their ends as elements of a social realm.  It is quite decisive, in this instance, that it is an almost universal phenomenon that the regions or countries constituting such institutional structures were practically bereft of the necessary infrastructure for a social realm, beyond the services and institutions already in place in cities.  The new national constitutions of the post-colonial world, that is to say, controlled institutions that reached only to one or more set of city limits.


On the other hand, aesthetic maxims ascribe desirable qualities to that indefinite body of citizens who will inhabit the social realm that evolves out of the constitution in which these aesthetic qualities are enshrined.  With the establishment of early republican societies – the United States being exemplary in this regard –, the founding assemblies drew on their experience not of already existing social realms, but on the experience of institutions of monarchical and colonial rule, as the basis for constituting alternative means of governance available to citizens who were not principally subjects of other persons.  This is not the place to detail why this trend seems to have fallen out of favour.  It seems to be the case, however, that all national constitutions established subsequent to that of the US ignored the basically Lockean maxim that it is in the quality of the bodily reproduction of the citizen community that the quality of a nation's admirability is to be found.  If institutions instead of citizens are the subject of the aesthetic maxims of society, then it is all too easy to permit a politics of rule over institutions to evolve.  Where the US for all its shortcomings (and again this is not the place to elaborate on them) at least places the onus on institutions to promote the quality of citizens' conditions in accordance with the ends of institutional conduct, subsequent constitutions seem to allow for situations in which institutional conduct becomes a function of the ends of those groups who come to control them.  That this could also be the case with South Africa's constitution is the subject of another project.  But Arendt’s (1958: 7-8) conception of the social realm as a modern approach to “to foresee and reckon with, the constant influx of newcomers who are born into the world as strangers” seems to capture the basic aesthetic maxim of the social realm.  This is that the principal political purpose of any society is to account for the natality and mortality of the human condition.  The ultimate benefit of a social realm is not, as some claim for US society, to overcome human mortality, but to reduce the possibility that individual citizens, and latterly groups of citizens, are structurally deprived of the opportunity to get the best quality of life as mortals.  Put differently, Heidegger was correct in noting that an individual’s death is something that no other can experience in its time, but he did not consider the possibility that far too many people suffer untimely death.  A social realm succeeds or fails to the extent that it accomplished this end without making it dependent of the prolonging of other suffering.  The principal human aesthetic that presupposes the ethics and logic of the social realm, in other words, is the quality that humans have to mitigate the pain – labour, travail – of their mortal condition.


However, these fundamental considerations do not preclude the subsequent conception of normative criteria for institutions themselves; they merely stress the need to have some prior normative conception of what should define the benefits of  putting institutions in place.  Institutional conduct is subject to ethical inquiry, and in my proposed realist approach the latter is presupposed by such aesthetic considerations.  But this reality, being as it is discoverable in its generality as the accumulation of consequences of inductive testing of abnumerable collections in the long run, can only be experienced partially in the context of particular institutions responding to the singular needs with which beneficiaries accost them.  The institutions of JMC are no different, and their actuality as part of the social realm means that they share the aesthetic and ethical grounding of all other relevant institutions in that sane social realm.  As institutions that relate to other institutions and to the collections of citizens that themselves take on institutional character (Shepperson 1995: Chapter 3), they tend to conduct themselves in terms of aesthetic qualities ascribed (except arguably in the US and, to some extent, in the United Kingdom) to the institutions and not their beneficiaries.  Individual journalistic communities frequently take issue with this, and they do so on the basis of the generally unspoken ethical conception that specificiable institutional actions, but often their objections are couched in one of the inherited nominalistic forms – deontological or consequentialist – that only recognize the reality of individuals and not of generals.  In turn, once again, these inherited options make it likely that inquiry into institutional incapacity will take recourse either to a restricted inductive syllogism that is applicable to enumerable aggregations, or to deductive syllogisms that nominalistically prove only the validity of singular actuals.


But to return to the aesthetic qualities in terms of which the ends of institutional conduct in a social realm are intended to be conceived, they are necessarily so general that (as noted earlier) they are best conceived as real vagues in realist terms.  They are further of such a nature that once they are embodied in an institutional function, they must remain somehow unchanged through the possible histories of that institution.  To use a term from political philosophy, these qualities cannot be embodied in order to be changed in terms of the needs of an anthropological revolution.  Institutions, in idiomatic language, ought not to be intended to change `human nature.'  In realist terms, the aesthetic that institutions promote should be such that, as embodying qualities of human natality and mortality, they must preserve their beneficiaries' humanity in ways that do not make their lives entirely subject to the struggle to mitigate this quality's finality.  JMC institutions thus recognize as `news' those instances where, whether because of something institutionally preventable taking place (South Africa's recent cholera episode for example) or because of  lapses in infrastructure administration (the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks), intended beneficiaries’ lives are cut short in untimely manner – that is to say, the institutional mitigation of mortality breaks down.  In a comparable way, however, descriptive JMC also tends to take a monitoring role itself (as opposed to journalism monitoring as a specialist practice within descriptive and classificatory JMC) in respect of institutional conduct that has the potential to result in a breakdown of mitigation.  Clearly, this applies to statutory institutions – Zimbabwean media institutions being examples of both monitoring and monitored institutions – as much as it does to non-statutory ones.  Journalistic reporting, commentary and opinion about deficiencies in public health are of a piece with writing about shortcomings in industrial products because of cost-cutting, or of economic failures because of the mismanagement of financial and commercial institutions.  All this is to illustrate the necessary vagueness of the general qualities upon which the social realm is necessarily raised.  At the same time, the vagueness of the aesthetic does give shape to institutions’ ethical imperative to conduct themselves so as to mitigate untimely mortality of their beneficiaries.  Since this end can be thwarted in as many ways as the quality of human natality and mortality is vague, JMC institutions and inquiry cannot be left to become routine administrative functions.  They must, put differently, remain responsive at all times to the scientific grounding of the concept their environment within the social realm as an irreducibly scientific conception.

To conclude this section, I must not be seen as trying to restore the `scientific' journalism models (for example, Cranberg 1989) that so spectacularly failed South African JMC during the apartheid era (see Skjerdal 1998).  Although critical JMC practitioners usually dismissed this approach as `positivist,’ few defined exactly what this quality entailed.  I do not deny, however, that Peirce proposed a view that itself might be taken as Positivist in some sense.  Peirce on one occasion admitted to a form of `prope-positivism’ because of his reliance on principles he borrowed from Comte.  But the difference between contemporary positivism and Peirce's embrace of science is this:  contemporary positivists tend to ground all knowledge in the special sciences, whereas Peirce grounded his approach in the broadest general conception of what is, or potentially could be, cognizable (EP 1: 56-82).  All he insisted on was that practitioners of any kind, theoretical, expressive, or practical, recognize and apply the forms of self-control proper to their crafts.  Much of his philosophical work centres on this kind of control as a positive property of any reasonably intelligent person.  There is no reason to exempt either myself or my JMC colleagues and community from it.



12.  Conclusion.


South Africa's media landscape matches the general landscape plotted onto the distribution maps of cell-phone service providers, Telkom, Eskom, and even of the national roads authority.  People with unfettered access to these infrastructures are (potentially) media enabled; those whose access is limited by either geography or economics, or both, are in need of `development.’  But this entails not seeking some authentic cosmology of roads, electricity or telephones to replace the Western Transport, Telephony or Electrical Cosmology of past colonizers.  It entails getting the infrastructures in place, and institutionalizing access to them in ways that remove the earlier marginalising relationships.  In other words, development requires the emplacement of infrastructures that are in practical terms independent of what people think of them, organized institutionally in ways that beneficiaries can make the best use of them according to their non-institutional ends.  Development, then, must also incorporate the entrenchment of that ethical environment that is based in the reality not only of infrastructures, but also in the institutional relations that maintain and extend them.  This is not as easy as it sounds, however, not merely because the intended beneficiaries must overcome generations of exclusion from the social realm in general (especially education and viable economic opportunities); they must also develop ways to accommodate the generational gap that necessarily will grow as younger members grow up skilled at living and working in an independent social realm that their elders never could.  The issue has not to do with a cultural essence that previous development ignored, but with the shift in cultural experience entailed by the ways of thinking made possible by the presence of what was absent for earlier generations (Shepperson 1995: Chapter 4 ).  There is no reason whatever to expect that individual members of older generations will never become at-home with thinking inside the institutions of the social realm; it is jut that, as generations of mature-age students in universities globally have discovered, it is more uncomfortable for older people to adopt new habits than it is for younger people to learn them from scratch without having to replace existing habits with which they have long been comfortable.


Development in the realm of media thus does not depend on older generations' existing media habits, but on how new media can accommodate these while not limiting new generations’ opportunities to grow into the full range of capabilities that an elaborated social realm’s media infrastructures offer.  In effect, they must not engender a conflict between the kinds of hypotheses ascribable to the humanity of previously restricted aggregations’ members asa result of their marginalization because of circumstances beyond their control, on the one hand, and the more general and therefore vague hypotheses that define the beneficiaries of an elaborated and working social realm.  What I am describing here is a pragmatic recapitulation of the long-standing clash between `tradition’ and `modernity.’  Of course second and higher generation beneficiaries of the social realm come to treat institutions as `traditional’ in much the same way as the fixation of belief by authority is the commonest way of conceiving of `tradition.’  But there is this difference:  the common conception of the tradition-modernity stresses the clash in the contents of beliefs, those of the traditional being held to be somehow inferior or superior to the content of modern beliefs.  In the pragmatic conception of this difference, the stress must be on the validity of inferences from belief to ends, and whether these ends promote the continuity of the most general conception, however vague, of the quality of the human condition.  In many cases `tradition’ has not been a timeless set of instructions passed across countless generations, but responses developed by those excluded from the social realm as a means of maintaining their best possible interpretation of what makes them human.  If the content of this interpretation contradicts conceptions of the relevant quality based on the best self-controlled methods available to practitioners not excluded for generations from a working social realm, then people who have inherited the former do not deserve continued marginalization when their community's exclusion finally ends.  By exactly the same token, however, their children and grandchildren do deserve to be marginalised because of their origins.  These may not be the immediate ethical imperatives of either professional or academic JMC, but they certainly cannot be dismissed.  After all, those who have persevered for generations against oppression and marginalization deserve a whole lot better in the future than more of that against which they struggled in the past.








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Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1974).  On certainty – Über Gewissheit.  edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright.  Oxford: Blackwell.


World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) (1984).  “Communication versus Alienation: Latin American Challenge for WACC.”  Media Development, 31(1), 18-19.

[1]  The state of Peirce’s papers following his death in 1914,and the manner in which posthumous publication took place, has not been conducive to the consistent use of referencing standards.  In this paper I will follow the following convention:


1) Citations from The Collected Papers of Charles S. Peirce (Harvard University press and Belknap Press), edited by Charles Harteshorne, Paul Weiss, and Arthur Burks, will be done by volume number, followed by the paragraph number (for example, reference to `Peirce 5.43' or `CP 5.43' indicates that the passage in question is published in Volume 5 of the CP at paragraph 43).

2) Citations from the recent chronologically-arranged Essential Peirce (1993; 1998) collections will be by volume number and page.  Thus `Peirce EP 2: 408' or `EP 2: 408' indicates that the material is to be found in Volume 2 of The Essential Peirce at page 408.

3) Material from the unpublished manuscripts will be cited by the Robin Catalogue (1967) manuscript or letter number, followed by any pagination in the manuscript material itself.  Thus the manuscript cited in this paper will be references as `MS 655: 16-18' to show that the relevant material is to be found between the pages Peirce himself numbered 16,17, 1nd 18 (following his own title for the MS, “Quest of Quest,” he numbered the pages `QQ18').


Many of those who come to study Peirce are actually astonished, given their subject’s relative marginalization in the academy, at just how much of his work Peirce had published in his lifetime.  Similarly, subsequent work by scholars like Max Fisch, Christian Kloesel, Nathan Houser, Joseph Brent, Don Roberts, Kenneth Laine Ketner, Joseph Ransdell and many others has contributed not only to a growing secondary literature, but has encouraged the production – nearly three-quarters of a century after his death – of a fully edited chronological edition of Peirce’s writing.  It is anticipated that this edition will run to between twenty-five and thirty volumes.

[2]  I argue this in more detail in my forthcoming Doctoral Thesis.

[3]  Monsanto was originally a Swiss concern, but through mergers and acquisitions has become a multinational or transnational corporation with significant holdings in the US and other industrialized nations of the northern hemisphere.  Most of the influence Monsanto has on the issue of Intellectual Property Rights in the field of genetically modified agricultural crops, it would therefore appear, lies in its lawyers’ capacity to lobby effectively for US support in the WTO.  Although this smacks somewhat of a conspiracy theory, it is hard not to notice the coincidence of transnational corporate interests and the power that the G7 nations exert over the operations of the WTO and IMF.

[4]  This is a little glib.  Nominalism goes back to William of Ockham, and, as Peirce (1992: 93-7) notes, influenced the thought of Hobbes and Berkeley in later centuries.  The influence of Hobbes on Rousseau is not always remarked, but the latter’s conception of a `general Will’ is logically indistinguishable from Hobbes’s Sovereign.  Equally important is the reliance of both on a conception that qualia are effectively decided by such a Will, which is a point taken to its fullest conclusions by Friedrich Nietzsche two centuries later.

[5]  Although I use the regular spelling `aesthetics’ instead of Peirce’s spelling `esthetics’, it should be noted that Peirce was at some pains to distinguish his conception from the reigning contemporary – and still influential – notion that aesthetics is purely the study of art.  I will, throughout the paper, use the term in Peirce’s sense unless otherwise indicated although continuing to use the accepted modern spelling.

[6]  The subdivisions of logic-semeiotic have been added editorially by Joseph Ransdell (1988).  Ransdell, while studying the Carnegie application manuscript during the nineteen-seventies, noted that based on the presuppositional order that Peirce used here, the manuscript drafts could be resolved into a series of succinct summaries of Peirce’s complete system of philosophy to date.  This discovery was one more blow against the widespread view (see for example Hacking 1983: 61; Rorty 1980: 296-7; also most dictionaries of philosophy) that Peirce was a scatter-brained genius who had no coherent philosophical standpoint.

[7]   In an early series of philosophical articles in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy and published between 1868 and 1869 (Vol. 2, 103-14; 140-157; 193-208), Peirce first proposed a radically anti-Cartesian alternative to the concept of mind.  In these articles, he first declares his adoption of a form of Scotist realism.  In conformity with this, he continued for the rest of his life to examine the grounds of logic in the reality of general terms, in that the latter are really operative in the universe and have some causal relation with the signs that form the true object of the study of logic.  Indeed, as Ransdell (1997) notes, the very basis of the well-known notion of the Icon – the first level of the category of mediation – relies on the reality of general qualities in the objects of signs.

[8]  The Harvard Lecture from which these passages have been excerpted is an early attempt to provide a `proof’ of pragmatism.  In later writing, Peirce realised that although he could demonstrate pragmatism as a logical doctrine well enough with these arguments, he could not prove it as a logical doctrine.  Subsequent attempts were based on phenomenology (EP 2: 360-70; MS 908), the normative sciences (EP 2: 371-97), and the existential graphs.  With the latter, much further scholarly work is required (but see Roberts 1973).

[9]  There is a technical relationship between the premise(s) of any argumentation and its conclusion that relies on the continuity of a quality asserted in the premise and its presence in the conclusion (EP 2: 24).  Peirce’s conception of the iconic sign was developed to account for the simple fact that people make good hypotheses of the if-then sort, and when the iconicity of the premise is retained in the symbolism of the conclusion, then the argumentation is valid.  Icons are signs of quality, and the continuity of iconicity therefore entails the continuity in the conclusion of a quality asserted in the premise.  See Ransdell 1997.

[10]    I use the pagination of the original MS for reference to this unpublished material.  Permission to cite has been sought from the copyright holders, the Harvard University Department of Philosophy.  The copy of the MS was generously provided by the Institute for the study of Pragmaticism, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX, USA.

[11]    Peirce, following his own norms for scientific and philosophical inquiry, spent considerable effort in developing a mathematical proof of continuity.  This relied on the rigorous distinction between geometrical and numerical continua, which Peirce showed to be analogous but not isomorphic (as Dedekind and Cantor had assumed).  Peirce demonstrated that continuity in the most general sense had to be essentially geometrical, and that the conception of a continuum was “nothing other than the pure potential for division, not an entity that is defined in terms of its actual divisions or points, even though, if you look, you should find an infinite number of them” (Locke 2000: 4).  Effectively, this underpins his phenomenological assertion that the reality of qualities is in their potential as “can-be’s” having indefinitely many possible realizations as “would-be’s” or law-like relations.  In other words, continuity of this kind is what Peirce held to be the fundamental basis for any evolutionary philosophy that accounted adequately for the obvious diversity-in-continuity of the universe as a whole.

[12]   Peirce produced a list, which to the best of my knowledge has been lost, a very small part of which the original editors of the Collected Papers included at 1.243.  The special sciences they included were: “pedagogics, gold-beating, etiquette, pigeon-fancying, vulgar arithmetic, horology, surveying, navigation, telegraphy, printing, bookbinding, paper-making, deciphering, ink-making, librarian’s work, engraving, etc.”  In addition to this, Richard S. Robin includes the following manuscripts on practical sciences in his Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce (1967): bleaching (MS 1348); cartography (MSS 1349-1355); engineering projects (MSS 1356-1360); telegraphy (MS 1361); photography (MS 1362); electrical chronometry (MS 1363); crystallography (MS 1364); and a recipe for Cologne water (MS 1365).

[13]     I have taken the liberty of using initial lowercase letters for many of the terms for which Peirce saw fit to use initial capitals.

[14]    I do not use the semiotic approach here, mentioning it only to clarify an aspect of the contemporary discourse of communications theory.  Strictly speaking, a message is always necessarily symbolic.  Much attention has been focused on the iconicity and indexicality of signs in the context of communication.  However, this tends to perpetuate the mistake that icons and indices have a separate existence both from each other and from symbols.  In the strictly Peircean model that I use here, all signs are symbolic but in a presuppostional development from their iconic and indexical properties.  In reading Peirce, especially the work after about 1885, it is important to understand that he is continuing a process of systematic integration of his concepts.  The overall conceptual model for his system is realist, evolutionary, and presuppositional.  Thus a sign is always already an evolved symbolic entity, presupposing icon and index, that stands to an object, itself real and presuppostional, for an interpretant which itself is real, systemic and presuppositional.

[15]    It is hardly surprising that major newspaper titles in the original home of the steam railway adopted names based on the types of railway schedules in effect.  Post, Mail and Express are familiar to English-language newspaper readers the world over, but originally they display a clear association with the kind of delivery their respective train services offered.  `Post’ and `Mail’ news would tend to be associated with slightly less up-to-date reports than the faster and more direct `Express’ news.  Similarly, the integration of the telegraph into news-gathering and reporting practice rather obviously allowed at least one title to appropriate that technology into its masthead.

[16]     Overlooking the local specifics of the way that socio-political issues have taken shape in the modern era can lead to some rather odd academic outcomes.  In my own field of cultural studies, there is a quite influential faction (I use the term advisedly) that considers the field to be almost exclusively relevant to English concerns.  This is usually ascribed to the supposed influence of such very English figures like Richard Hoggart, Edward Thompson, and Raymond Williams (Higgins 2000).  On the one hand, this approach does call into consideration the fact that other nations have developed somewhat differently and may require inquiry into different technological, social, political, historical and other developments.  On the other hand, the broader trends of British historical development reach well beyond the narrow confines of English experience.  Industry, representative government, jurisprudence, radical theory, the conception of race, the modernization of imperialism, and much else, all take their precedents from some action involving British actors (or other actors resident on British soil, like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels).  Thus even the supposed `authenticity’ sought for US and Australian cultural studies must take cognizance not of some quality of `Englishness’ in cultural studies, but instead of the ways that local technological, social, political, historical and other developments impact on the quality `is cultural’ for the environment under investigation.

[17]   I do not discuss Peirce’s arguments for the reality of law-like relations – signs being the most general of these – as they evolve in the categories.  This he explains in many places, and the best concise example is to be found in the Harvard Lectures of 1905 (EP 2: 181-186).  However, Peirce already as far back as 1871 made a case for realism in logic – and by extension philosophy in general – in his review of Alexander Fraser’s edition of George Berkeley’s writings (EP 1: 83-105).

[18]     In an early article on “Logical Extension and Comprehension”(Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2 (1868):  190_191), Peirce clarifies his position on the way he considers the term “determined”:


I shall do well to state more fully than I did before, the manner in which I understand Hegel (in common with all other logicians) to use them.  Possibly, the original signification of bestimmt was “settled by vote”;  or it may have been “pitched to a key”.  Thus its origin was quite different from that of “determined”;  yet I believe that as philosophical terms their equivalence is exact.  In general, they mean “fixed to be this (or thus), in contradistinction to being this, that, or the other (or in some way or other)”. -- When it is a concept or term, such as is expressed by a concrete noun or adjective which is said to be more determinate than another, the sense sometimes is that the logical extension of the former concept or term is a part and only a part of that of the latter;  but more usually the sense is that the logical comprehension of the latter is a part and only a part of that of the former. CP 6.625 (1868).

[19]  The terms `enumrable’, `denumerable’ and `abnumerable’ are from Peirce’s development of Cantor’s and Dedekind’s work on set theory and infinite numbers.  He discusses his use of them as factors in defining different classes of induction in EP 2: 98-100.  These forms of multitude are also related to the kinds of potential divisibilty of the mathematical continuum, a concept central to Peirce’s metaphysical doctrine of Synechism (Locke 2000).

[20]   Peirce (EP 2: 98-106) classifies the forms of logical inference into genera, each of which may contain several species.  This approach reflects his training under Louis Agassiz (see, for example, EP 2: 128-132), and Peirce frequently adopted the method, in combination with other classification methods, in different ways in logic, semiotics, the philosophy of science, and other fields.

[21]   The current journalistic focus on President Thabo Mbeki's somewhat controversial approach to HIV/AIDS often requires quite extensive correlations between such issues.  Other examples will include, naturally, the inquiry and reporting necessary to make public sense of the apparently senseless suicide bombings that recently became a material feature – Big News – in the lives of Americans.

[22]     Although not exactly a case of falsification, a good example of this kind of issue would be the somewhat fractious dissent around the classification of the HI virus as a ground for initiatives in SA health policy.  How does one classify a retrovirus?  If one denies that it is classifiable at all, then much of the potential for dealing with the historical findings of descriptive virology and immunology must be sharply diminished as resources in the quest to treat AIDS.

END OF:  Shepperson, "Realism, Logic, and Social Communication"


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