Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Philosophy



First Advisor

William Young


This thesis attempts an explanation of the object of signs in Charles s. Peirce's semiotic theory. In this regard it tries to defend Peirce's view that every sign has an object. The question of the conventionality of signs is also taken up in the investigation of Peirce's classification of signs. In this regard the thesis attempts to argue, contrary to Peirce, that anything requires a convention if it is to be significative.

In chapter I Peirce's categories are introduced and explained in order to provide the necessary background for the later explanation of his classificatory scheme.

In chapter II Peirce's original three classification trichotomies are discussed in order to develop the main lines of the triadic sign relation and Peirce's sign theory in general. In this chapter it is argued that Peirce’s classification scheme breaks down at certain points and leads to a blurring of some of the distinctions between signs. On this point the question of conventions in sign theory arises. The thesis argues that a convention is required for all signs whereas Peirce seems to think that only symbols require a convention. An explanation of the immediate-dynamical object distinction and the immediate-dynamical-final interpretant distinction is also attempted in this chapter.

In chapter II the question of the object of signs is taken up in some detail. Here it is argued that every sign has an object when it is actually functioning as a sign. In this regard much emphasis is put on the role of context in determining the object of a given sign. The distinction between the immediate and dynamical object is developed in greater detail and it is suggested that this distinction might be helpful in deciding whether or not Peirce thought all things are signs.

In the conclusion a summary of the arguments for the necessity of a convention for all signs and the intentionality of all signs is given and some other questions in sign theory are suggested.

A bibliography is appended to the end of the thesis.



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