Calderoni, Mario (1879–1914)

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Mario Calderoni ranks next to his teacher Giovanni Vailati as an Italian "Peircean pragmatist." He was graduated in law from the University of Pisa in 1901, and later lectured on the theory of values at the universities of Bologna and Florence.

Calderoni engaged in analyses of human behavior. These began with the interpretation of voluntary acts, which he regarded as the only nonmetaphysical problem of free will. In everyday life we all possess as good a criterion as is necessary to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary acts. To find out whether an act is to be called voluntary or not, we must modify the circumstances in which it usually occurs. If it still occurs in any case, we call it "involuntary"; if not, we call it "voluntary." The difference rests on the "plasticity" of voluntary acts, on their liability to modification by certain influences. A voluntary act "is liable not to be performed if the actor is given some new information on its consequences." What determines his acting is some expectation, which we can modify "either by changing one of the actor's beliefs by means of persuasion or reasoning, or, so to say artificially, by adding to the consequences the act would bring about if it were performed" (Scritti, vol. 2, pp. 2526.). This criterion would hold good even if it were proved that all our acts are subject to the principle of causality. In Calderoni's hands, it became an empirical, perfectible tool applied to the analysis of moral and legal responsibility.

In Disarmonie economiche e disarmonie morali (Florence, 1906) Calderoni viewed moral life as a "wide market where some men make determinate demands on other men who oppose such demands with more or less resistance and claim in their turn some sort of reward." Moral acts are judged not according to their total value, but according to their marginal or comparative value. We tend to confer the highest moral value not on common acts but on acts so rare that we would be obliged to repress them if their normal production increased. The moral value of actions is therefore related to their supply.

See also Peirce, Charles Sanders; Vailati, Giovanni; Value and Valuation.


additional works by calderoni

I postulati della scienza positiva ed il diritto penale (The postulates of positive science and penal law). Florence, 1901. His doctoral dissertation, containing his main ideas in brief.

Scritti. Edited by Odoardo Campa. 2 vols. Florence: Società anon. editrice "La voce," 1924. Preface by Giovanni Papini.

For joint papers by Calderoni and Giovanni Vailati, see the entry on Vailati.

works on calderoni

Bozzi, Paolo. "Il pragmatismo italiano: Mario Calderoni." Rivista critica di storia della filosofia 12 (3) (1957): 293322.

Renauld, J.-F. "L'oeuvre inachevée de Mario Calderoni." Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 23 (1918): 207231.

Santucci, Antonio. Il pragmatismo in Italia. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1963. Ch. 5, 216262.

Ferruccio Rossi-Landi (1967)

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Calderoni, Mario (1879–1914)

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Calderoni, Mario (1879–1914)