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  1. What is meaning of the bold clause? Is it a part of what Peirce labeled as a priori method? Is it supposed to say that the consensus is emerged through the a priori method? (Because the consensus can't be a method)

  2. Is 'developing' an adjective? Does it mean growing or improving? Can I eliminate it in translation?

The American pragmatist philosopher Charles Peirce pointed out another difficulty with the use of reason and logic—it can be used to reach opposing conclusions, easily observed in political discussions. Peirce labeled the use of reason, and a developing consensus among those debating the merits of one belief over another, the a priori method for acquiring knowledge.

Source: C. James Goodwin; Research in psychology Methods and Design; Sixth Edition

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  1. Q: What is meaning of the bold clause?  Is it a part of what Peirce labeled as an a priori method? 
    A: Yes. 

Pierce labeled a combination of two things.  One of these two things is the use of reason.  The other is a developing consensus among those debating the merits of one belief over another.  This use and this consensus combine to form the thing that Pierce labeled the a priori method for acquiring knowledge

  1. Q: Is "developing" an adjective?  Does it mean growing or improving?  Can I eliminate it in translation? 
    A: Maybe, yes, and no. 

Just like "growing" and "improving", "developing" is a participle.  I don't call it an adjective in this use, but some people do.  It is certainly doing the same job that an adjective typically does.  Here, it modifies "consensus". 

"Developing" implies more than "growing and improving".  It implies that someone is actively trying to make improvements and extensions.  In this context, the someone is clearly represented:  People who debate the merits of one belief over another develop a consensus. 

The nouns "use" and "consensus" are grammatically parallel.  They are, after all, both abstract nouns.  However, we can paraphrase the author's sentiment while establishing a closer semantic parallel: 

Peirce labeled the use of reason, and the development of consensus among those debating the merits of one belief over another, the a priori method for acquiring knowledge. 

Here, "use" and "development" have even more in common than "use" and "consensus".  Both "use" and "development" represent methods, or abstract actions.  Combined, they still represent a method.  This is the sort of thing that makes sense as "the a priori method for acquiring knowledge". 

The semantics carried by "developing" are essential to the author's intended meaning.  You'll want to avoid letting that get lost in translation. 

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  • Thanks a lot. Your answer was very helpful. But I think there is still a semantic problem about "development". I think it's debating (not consensus in original statement or development in yours) that should be labled as method (Consensus and development are products of the method). What's your opinion? – user52346 Dec 2 '17 at 11:38
  • If you and I start debating, some possible outcomes would contribute to the development of a consensus, but other possible outcomes would not. If, for example, we stop debating when we simply agree to disagree, then we haven't developed any consensus and we haven't employed any method for acquiring knowledge. That debate doesn't help. On the other hand, if we stop debating because I decide to agree with you, then we've developed some consensus. In the process of developing that consensus, I must have learned something -- probably something I can later teach. Knowledge is acquired. – Gary Botnovcan Dec 2 '17 at 16:51
  • Thanks. 1.Debating (by reason, in comparison with experience for example) is a method of acquiring knowledge. It's a method, so it can result in acquiring knowledge, but not necessarily. If we stop debating (by any reason) we can't use the method Wich is potentially could able us to acquiring knowledge (regardless of what is acquired at the end (by chance and any other reasons)) and if we continue to debate it's not warranted that some kind of knowledge is going to be acquired. 2. 1 doesn't help to answer the question of "which one is the method: consensus, development, or debating". I think d – user52346 Dec 6 '17 at 23:06

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