History Within History, Method Without Method: John Dewey and Genetic Argument

Dissertation, Vanderbilt University (1988)

John Dewey is frequently accused of committing the "genetic fallacy," but the usual accounts of the so-called fallacy are either not applicable to Dewey, or do not clearly make out any fallacy. I locate the conflict between Dewey and his critics by giving a brief history of the function of the debate over history within the philosophical profession in its original context. I then develop an analysis of genetic, or historical method as Dewey employs it. In providing an explanation of a pragmatic philosophy of history I adopt two notions from the German historicist tradition: individuality and development. Finally I defend Dewey's use of history as a form of philosophical critique. The resulting exposition gives an alternative view of the issues which underlie the continuing debate over the proper function of the history of philosophy within present philosophy
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