In this paper I compare the roles that the explicit and implicit educational theories of John Dewey and John Rawls play in their political works to show that Rawls’s approach is skeletal and inappropriate for defenders of democracy. I also uphold Dewey’s belief that education is valuable in itself, not only derivatively, contra Rawls. Next, I address worries for any educational theory concerning problems of distributive justice. Finally, I defend Dewey’s commitment to democracy as a consequence of the demands of (...) productive public inquiry and education. (shrink)
Charles S. Peirce’s theory of proper names bears helpful insights for how we might think about his understanding of persons. Persons, on his view, are continuities, not static objects. I argue that Peirce’s notion of the legisign, particularly proper names, sheds light on the habitual and conventional elements of what it means to be a person. In this paper, I begin with an account of what philosophers of language have said about proper names in order to distinguish Peirce’s theory of (...) proper names from them. Then, I present Peirce’s semiotic theory of proper names, followed by some ways in which his theory can be applied to practical concerns, such as first impressions, name changing, identity, and temporary insanity. (shrink)
The factors which have brought society to its present pass and impasse contain forces which, when released and constructively utilized, form the positive basis of an educational philosophy and practice that will recover and will develop our original national ideals. The basic principle in that philosophy and practice is that we should use that method of experimental action called natural science to form a disposition which puts a supreme faith in the experimental use of intelligence in all situations of life.In (...) the past, ethical theories have been presented as self-sufficient and holistic. Philosophers have historically been either deontologists, consequentialists, virtue ethicists, divine command theorists, or .. (shrink)
Abstract:John Dewey argued that for education to be democratic, it is important for students to be not merely spectators but also participants in learning. Teachers sometimes find personal computing devices to be distracting or to contribute to passivity rather than activity in the classroom. In this essay we examine the question of whether a student’s Google search on a subject matter discussed in class is participatory or passive. We argue that with proper guidance students’ use of online searches and related (...) tools can empower students democratically as sources of ideas, conceptualizations, information, and insight while emphasizing participation in deliberation and judgment in the classroom. We begin with a look at the criticisms and then defenses of using online tools in the classroom. Finally, we examine Dewey’s distinction between the spectator versus the participant models of learning to apply his insights to the use of online tools in the classroom. (shrink)
Education is among the forces with which oppressed people can become empowered. Nevertheless, the public policy nonprofit organization Demos has found that the median wealth of white high school dropouts in 2013 was higher than for black college graduates in the United States.1 The harsh realities of prejudice and limits on opportunity for historically disadvantaged communities motivate debates about how best to prepare, educate, and protect young people. The philosophical literature in the liberal political tradition has paid considerable attention to (...) the concept of self-respect, as it is important for deliberative democracy. If a person lacks self-respect, he might feel unworthy to speak up for himself. Or she.. (shrink)
This paper examines Larry A. Hickman’s warnings about the dangers of algorithmic technologies for democracy and then considers educational policy initiatives that are important for combatting such threats over the long term. John Dewey’s philosophy is considered both in Hickman’s work and in this paper’s review of what Dewey called the “Supreme Intellectual Obligation.” Dewey’s insights highlight crucial tasks necessary and called for with respect to education to value and appreciate the sciences and what they can do to serve humanity. (...) At the same time, a significant cultural effort is needed to ensure that schools are empowered to do this vital work and that the public is informed and enabled to demand the leadership and initiatives that democracy needs to safeguard against threats to it. (shrink)
This article argues for a definition of public philosophy inspired by John Dewey’s understanding of the “supreme intellectual obligation.” The first section examines five strong reasons why more public philosophy is needed and why the growing movement in public philosophy should be encouraged. The second section begins with a review of common understandings of public philosophy as well as some initial challenges that call for widening our conception of the practice. Then, it applies Dewey’s argument in “The Supreme Intellectual Obligation” (...) to public philosophy, which must not be seen simply as a one-way street from intellectuals to the masses but, rather, as the task of fostering the scientific attitude and intellectual habits of mind in all citizens. (shrink)
Philosophical Pragmatism and International Relations bridges the gap between philosophical pragmatism and international relations, two disciplinary perspectives that together shed light on how to advance the study and conduct of foreign affairs. Authors in this collection discuss a broad range of issues, from policy relevance to peacekeeping operations, with an eye to understanding how this distinctly American philosophy, pragmatism, can improve both international relations research and foreign policy practice.
I present a persistent religious moral theory, known as divine command theory, which conflicts with liberal political thought. John Rawls's notion of public reason offers a framework for thinking about this conflict, but it has been criticized for demanding great restrictions on religious considerations in public deliberation. I argue that although Paul Kurtz is critical of organized religion, his epistemological suggestions and ethical theory offer a feasible way to build common moral ground between atheists, secularists, and theists, so long as (...) each maintains the important democratic value of toleration in the form of either fallibilism or skepticism. (shrink)
In Morality, Leadership, and Public Policy, Eric Weber argues for an experimentalist approach to moral theory in addressing practical problems in public policy. The experimentalist approach begins moral inquiry by examining public problems and then makes use of the tools of philosophy and intelligent inquiry to alleviate them. -/- Part I surveys the uses of practical philosophy and answers criticisms - including religious challenges - of the approach, presenting a number of areas in which philosophers' intellectual efforts can prove valuable (...) for resolving public conflicts. -/- Part II presents a new approach to experimentalism in moral theory, based on the insights of John Dewey's pragmatism. Focusing on the elements of good public inquiry and the experimentalist attitude, Weber discusses ways of thinking about the effective construction and reconstruction of particular problems, including practical problems of public policy prioritization. -/- Finally, in Part III the book examines real-world examples in which the experimentalist approach to ethics proves useful, including instances of "bandwidth theft" and the controversies surrounding activist judges in the US Supreme Court. (shrink)
In this essay, I review the writings of three philosophers whose work converges on the insight that we must attend to and reconstruct culture for the sake of justice. John Rawls, John Dewey, and Richard Rorty help show some of the ways in which culture can enable or undermine the pursuit of justice. They also offer resources for identifying tools for addressing the cultural challenges impeding justice. I reveal insights and challenges in Rawls’s philosophy as well as tools and solutions (...) for building on and addressing them in Dewey’s and Rorty’s philosophy. (shrink)
The present paper is a response to Gerald Gaus, who has argued that philosophers should not apply ethics. After a critical evaluation of Gaus's arguments, I present several ways which Sidney Hook has outlined for philosophers to bring their skills to bear fruitfully on public policy matters. Following Hook's list, I offer three of my own suggestions for further ways in which philosophers can positively contribute to the application of ethics and of philosophy generally. Finally, I propose the venue of (...) consultancy as a way in which philosophers can begin to use the many skills they have to offer for confronting the problems people face outside of the academy. (shrink)
In The Principles of Psychology, William James addressed ten justifications for the concept of the unconscious mind, each of which he refuted. Twenty – five years later in The Unconscious, Freud presented many of the same, original arguments to justify the unconscious, without any acknowledgement of James’s refutations. Some scholars in the last few decades have claimed that James was in fact a supporter of a Freudian unconscious, contrary to expectations. In this essay, I first summarize Freud’s justification for the (...) unconscious to highlight the arguments he used in 1915, before then demonstrating how clearly James had undercut these same argument in the Principles, published in 1890. Interpreters of James’s thought should resist the claim that he would or did support Freud’s idea of the unconscious, even if he at times spoke generously about other scholars. We also have reason to wonder about Freud’s inattention to James’s remarkable early work in psychology, especially given James’s critiques of the concept of the unconscious. (shrink)
This essay defends the Pragmatist’s call to activism in higher education, understanding it as a necessary development of good democratic inquiry. Some criticisms of activism have merit, but I distinguish crass or uncritical activism from judicious activism. I then argue that judicious activism in higher education and in philosophy is not only defensible, but both called for implicitly in the task of democratic education as well as an aspect of what John Dewey has articulated as the supreme intellectual obligation, namely (...) to ensure that inquiry is put to use for the benefit of life. (shrink)
This article draws on the past and present work of the Society of Philosophers in America, Inc. to consider eight challenges for growing communities of philosophical conversation in ways that pragmatism encourages and calls for, in terms of engaged public philosophy. The essay then proposes ways of addressing the eight challenges with solutions or outlooks for overcoming or diminishing obstacles to engaged, public philosophical and conversational community-building. The author argues that it is vital especially for pragmatists, but also for philosophers (...) in general, not only to appreciate and work to address these challenges, but also to affirmatively support and recognize the publicly conversational and community-building philosophy that is an implication of pragmatist philosophy and scholars’ supreme intellectual obligation. (shrink)
In this paper I examine John Dewey's correspondence and selected writings to illuminate Dewey's understanding of and possible shaping of William James's work as it pertains to politics and democracy. I suggest a way of seeing a richer connection between the thinkers than has been portrayed and a picture of influence flowing from Dewey to James.