This paper explores relationships between environment and education after the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of philosophy of education in a new key developed by Michael Peters and the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia. The paper is collectively written by 15 authors who responded to the question: Who remembers Greta Thunberg? Their answers are classified into four main themes and corresponding sections. The first section, ‘As we bake the earth, let's try and bake it from scratch’, gathers wider philosophical (...) considerations about the intersection between environment, education, and the pandemic. The second section, ‘Bump in the road or a catalyst for structural change?’, looks more closely into issues pertaining to education. The third section, ‘If you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you’, focuses to Greta Thunberg’s messages and their responses. The last section, ‘Towards a new normal’, explores future scenarios and develops recommendations for critical emancipatory action. The concluding part brings these insights together, showing that resulting synergy between the answers offers much more then the sum of articles’ parts. With its ethos of collectivity, interconnectedness, and solidarity, philosophy of education in a new key is a crucial tool for development of post-pandemic education. (shrink)
With DLT’s success in driving the development of cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin), the technology bridged to a myriad of knowledge-based applications, most notably in the areas of commerce, industry and government . In the language of technology sector insiders, these areas were ‘disrupted’ by Blockchain. Some higher education analysts, technology industry insiders and futurists have claimed that Blockchain technology will inevitably disrupt higher education in a similarly dramatic fashion. The aim of this commentary is to introduce a healthy dose of (...) realism into the hype-filled atmosphere of the Blockchain-for-higher-education narrative. A postdigital approach is taken because it treats digital and non-digital technologies as having equal material and cultural standing as candidates to transform higher education. (shrink)
If it were followed by “I’m a president,” Richard Nixon’s televised denial (“I am not a crook”) would be tantamount to Jimmy McGill’s self-portrayal in Better Call Saul. Out of the crooked timber of humanity, an honest president or an ethical lawyer rarely emerges. They’re like needles in a haystack. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to search for these rare artifacts and, in the process, ask, “Why do so many lawyers (and presidents) fall from grace, transforming into morally bad or corrupt actors?” (...) The ability to be a good or ethical person can deteriorate over time. In their personal and professional lives, people can make consistently poor choices in their capacity as moral agents. In turn, they cultivate flawed habits or what are often referred to as vices. Jimmy McGill’s trajectory is, without a doubt, a harrowing story of moral decline. In some ways, his transformation into Saul Goodman resembles a trite story about how a profession, lawyering, corrupts its practitioners. On a deeper level, McGill’s journey involves a fundamental change in how he habitually interacts with his environment, a change of motivation and disposition that is, almost entirely, a change for the worse. To know the content of Jimmy’s character is to be familiar with his story, a story of moral decline and ethical failure. (shrink)
In this chapter, the points of intellectual consonance between Jane Addams and John Dewey are explored, specifically their (1) shared belief that philosophy is a method, (2) parallel commitments to philosophical pragmatism and (3) similar convictions that philosophy should serve to address social problems. Also highlighted are points of divergence in their thinking, particularly their positions on U.S. entry into World War I and, more generally, the value of social conflict. Finally, the chapter concludes with what the author believes is (...) Addams's and Dewey's most significant joint contribution to the contemporary philosophical landscape: a vision of practically engaged pragmatism. (shrink)
This commentary proposes that the concept of slacktivism be enlarged and refined in light of postdigitalism’s Parity Thesis, which states that digital media should not receive undue privilege relative to non-digital media. The term ‘slacktivism’ makes an implicit comparison of activism in digital and non-digital contexts, demeaning the former as less potent, valuable, and impactful than the latter. As a reconstructed concept, postdigital slacktivism would apply equally in both contexts, and most importantly to poorly reasoned activism. After this reformulation, slacktivism’s (...) vapidity no longer reflects the means of transmitting the activist’s message but conveys that there is a breakdown in the rational or logical relation between the activist’s means and the movement’s end. My argument is that subjecting slacktivism to a postdigital reinterpretation positively enriches the concept, transforming it into a pragmatically useful tool for understanding a wider swath of social and political phenomena. (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.
In the time of Coronavirus, it is perhaps as good a time as any to comment on the use and abuse of metaphors. One of the worst instances of metaphor abuse-especially given the recent epidemiological crisis-is Lynne Tirrell's notion of toxic speech. In the foregoing reply piece, I analyze Tirrell's metaphor and reveal how it blinds us to the liberating power of public speech. Lynne Tirrell argues that some speech is, borrowing from field of Epidemiology, toxic in the sense that (...) it harms vulnerable listeners. In this response piece, I summarize the main points of Tirrell's toxic speech argument, map the underlying conceptual metaphor and pose three objections. (shrink)
Remembrance Education (RE) indicates “an attitude of active respect in contemporary society based on the collective remembrance of human suffering that is caused by forms of human behavior such as war, intolerance or exploitation, and that must not be forgotten.” Unlike traditional history education, the point of RE is not the straightforward teaching of historical facts (if that is at all possible). Instead, RE’s purpose is to bring learners into a community, a community of memory, where they become witnesses, judges (...) and guardians of the memories of tragic past events. Writings on RE are conspicuously absent from Dewey studies. In this bibliographic essay, I offer an overview of RE, including a sample of its programs, initiatives and curricula. In addition, I propose that Dewey’s educational philosophy can helpfully inform the practice of RE. Rather than articulate a definitive account of Dewey-inspired RE, my intention is only to draw a tentative ground map to motivate future research. (shrink)
This article explores the possibility that John Dewey’s silence on the matter of which democratic means are needed to achieve democratic ends, while confusing, makes greater sense if we appreciate the notion of political technology from an anthropological perspective. Michael Eldridge relates the exchange between John Herman Randall, Jr., and Dewey in which Dewey concedes “that I have done little or nothing in this direction [of outlining what constitutes adequate political technology, but that] does not detract from my recognition that (...) in the concrete the invention of such a technology is the heart of the problem of intelligent action in political matters.” Dewey’s concession could be interpreted as an admission that he was unqualified to identify political machinery or institutions suitable for realizing his vision of democracy as a way of life. Not being able to specify adequate means to achieve lofty democratic ends is not problematic, though, if we appreciate the roots of Dewey’s work (especially Human Nature and Conduct) in the anthropological writings of Immanuel Kant and Franz Boas. For then experience reflects a myriad of social and cultural conditions such that specifying explicit means to structure that experience risks stymieing the organic development of political practice. When pressured to operationalize political technology, he chose the appropriately open-ended and, at times, frustratingly vague means of education and growth. In short, Dewey did not want his ambitious democratic vision to outstrip the possibilities of practice, so he left the task of specifying exact political technology (or which democratic means are best suited to achieve democratic ends) unfinished. (shrink)
The idea of geoengineering, or the intentional modification of the Earth's atmosphere to reverse the global warming trend, has entered a working theory stage, finding expression in a variety of proposed projects, such as launching reflective materials into the Earth's atmosphere, positioning sunshades over the planet's surface, depositing iron filings into the oceans to encourage phytoplankton blooms, and planting more trees, to name only a few.
During the 1960s and 1970s, institutionalists and behavioralists in the discipline of political science argued over the legitimacy of the institutional approach to political inquiry. In the discipline of philosophy, a similar debate concerning institutions has never taken place. Yet, a growing number of philosophers are now working out the institutional implications of political ideas in what has become known as “non-ideal theory.” My thesis is two-fold: (1) pragmatism and institutionalism are compatible and (2) non-ideal theorists, following the example of (...) pragmatists, can avoid a similar debate as took place between institutionalists and behavioralists by divulging their assumptions about institutions. (shrink)
'Ghosting' or the unethical practice of having someone other than the student registered in the course take the student's exams, complete their assignments and write their essays has become a common method of cheating in today's online higher education learning environment. Internet-based teaching technology and deceit go hand-in-hand because the technology establishes a set of perverse incentives for students to cheat and institutions to either tolerate or encourage this highly unethical form of behavior. For students, cheating becomes an increasingly attractive (...) option as pre-digital safeguards-for instance, in-person exam proctoring requirements and face-to-face mentoring-are quietly phased out and eventually eliminated altogether. Also, as the punishments for violating academic integrity policies are relaxed, the temptation to cheat increases accordingly. For institutions, tolerating, normalizing and encouraging one type of student cheating, ghosting, improves the profitability of their online divisions by bolstering student enrolments and retention. In universities and colleges across the globe, online divisions and programs have become thriving profit centers, not because of the commonly attributed reasons (student ease, safety during health crises and convenience of taking courses online), but due to a single strategic insight: Ubiquitous opportunities for ghosting improve profit margins and maximize revenue. (shrink)
The legacy of George W. Bush will probably be associated with the President’s infallibly certain style of visionary leadership and his specific vision of a ‘Freedom Agenda’. According to this vision, the United States must spread democracy to all people who desire liberty and vanquish those tyrants and terrorists who despise it. Freedom is universally valued, and the United States is everywhere perceived as freedom’s protector and purveyor. So, the mission of the Freedom Agenda is to guard existing freedoms as (...) well as spread the democratic political system to those countries lacking comparable freedoms. Recent analyses of the Bush Freedom Agenda examine its roots in realist foreign policy and neoconservative political thought. In this paper, I take a different approach, connecting the Freedom Agenda to the ideas of two philosophers: (i) Isaiah Berlin’s notion of positive-negative liberty and (ii) John Dewey’s concept of freedom as a function of culture. My central claim is that when compared with the ideas of Berlin and Dewey, the Freedom Agenda is a faulty construct, both conceptually and practically, for understanding America’s role in global affairs. The Freedom Agenda proves to be neither conservative nor universal. Nevertheless, it constitutes an essential element of George W. Bush’s legacy, a vision of American purpose in a threatening and divisive world. (shrink)
Robert Talisse objects that Deweyan democrats, or those who endorse John Dewey’s philosophy of democracy, cannot consistently hold that (i) “democracy is a way of life” and (ii) democracy as a way of life is compatible with pluralism, at least as contemporary political theorists define that term. What Talisse refers to as his “pluralist objection” states that Deweyan democracy resembles a thick theory of democracy, that is, a theory establishing a set of prior restraints on the values that can count (...) as legitimate within a democratic community. In this paper, it is argued that his pluralist objection succumbs to some combination of four charges. The first two sections of the paper are devoted to presentations of Talisse’s two formulations of his pluralist objection, as they appear in his essay “Can Democracy be a Way of Life?” and his book A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy , respectively. The four charges against the pluralist objection receive attention in the second section. In the third section, Dewey’s pluralist procedure is articulated and illustrated using a recent Canadian public policy debate, followed by some concluding remarks on the acceptability of relying on contemporary political examples of Deweyan democracy in action. (shrink)
As the value of a university degree plummets, the popularity of digital microcredentials has soared. Similar to recent calls for the early adoption of Blockchain technology, the so-called ‘microcredentialing craze’ could be no more than a fad, marketing hype or another case of ‘learning innovation theater’. Alternatively, the introduction of these compact skills- and competency-based online certificate programs might augur the arrival of a legitimate successor to the four-year university diploma. The thesis of this article is that the craze for (...) microcredentialing reflects (1) administrative urgency to unbundle higher education curricula and degree programs for greater efficiency and profitability and (2) a renascent movement among industry and higher education leaders to reorient the university curriculum towards vocational training. (shrink)
In his pithy indictments of democracy, Churchill captured a feeling prevalent among intellectuals in the first half of the twentieth century; a feeling that government-by-the-people warranted, at best, a limited or half-hearted faith; a feeling that might be described as the “majoritarian creed.” This creed can be characterized by the following propositions. A believer-inthe-democratic-faith defends majoritarian methods—such as popular votes, polls and representation—as the best available means to signal the people’s collective political preferences.
The goal of this paper is examine the recent literature on the intersection between philosophical pragmatism and International Relations (IR), including IR theory and IR research methodology. One of the obstacles to motivating pragmatist IR theories and research methodologies, I contend, is the difficulty of defining pragmatism, particularly whether there is a need for a more generic definition of pragmatism or one narrowly tailored to the goals of IR theorists and researchers.
For the past thirty years, the Transitional Justice (TJ) research program has been undergoing a period of transition, simultaneously expanding and consolidating; in one sense, expanding its scope to encompass the measurement of TJ’s impact and the redefinition of ‘transitional’ to include societies afflicted by deep social and economic injustice; and in a second sense, consolidating its practical approach to promoting democracy and peace by developing best practices for institutionalizing TJ. While there have been advances in designing new TJ mechanisms (...) and remedying the concept’s under-theorization, little comparative progress has been made to date in offering a guiding framework for TJ’s push to institutionalize. The thesis of this article is that philosophical pragmatism, specifically Deweyan pragmatism, offers a bevy of resources—a virtual tool-kit—for scholars and practitioners wishing to design TJ-friendly institutions within transitional societies. (shrink)
In chapter 8 of The Grace and the Severity of the Ideal, Victor Kestenbaum disputes the naturalistic-instrumentalist reading of John Dewey's A Common Faith. Rather than accept the orthodox reading, he challenges mainstream Dewey scholars to read Dewey's theism from a phenomenological perspective. From this vantage, Kestenbaum contends that Dewey was wagering on transcendence, gambling on an ideal realm of supersensible entities, and hoping that the payoff would be universal acknowledgement of "a widening of the place of transcendence and faith (...) in every area of his philosophy." In a long-neglected correspondence between John Dewey and Albert Balz, Dewey responds to Balz's misreading of his logic as a correspondence theory of truth by stating that through the translation of all the ontological into the logical in the context of inquiry, he is "on the side of the angels." I argue that Dewey is accomplishing much the same thing in A Common Faith by naturalistically unifying the real and the ideal under the heading of the religious. In this respect, Dewey's naturalism and instrumentalism, rather than Kestenbaum's transcendentalism, is firmly "on the side of the angels.". (shrink)
I formulate a Deweyan argument for school gardening that prepares students for a specific type of gardening activism: community gardening, or the political activity of collectively organizing, planting and tending gardens for the purposes of food security, education and community development.
Should ethics be taught in the high schools? Should high school faculty teach it themselves or invite college and university professors (or instructors) into the classroom to share their expertise? In this paper, I argue that the challenge to teach ethics in the high schools has a distinctly Deweyan dimension to it, since (i) Dewey proposed that it be attempted and (ii) he provided many valuable resources with which to proceed. The paper is organized into four sections. In the first, (...) I summarize Jim Garrison’s account of Dewey’s philosophy as education and argue that it offers an exceptional tool-kit to someone interested in advocating for high school ethics pedagogy. The second section presents Dewey’s model for ethics instruction in a high school setting, as articulated in his only essay devoted specifically to the subject: “Teaching Ethics in the High School.” The third examines Peter Singer’s brief essay, “Moral Experts,” to see whether moral expertise is a sine qua non for teaching ethics in the high schools. In the fourth and concluding section, I propose that meeting the Deweyan challenge of teaching ethics in the high schools requires, first, preparing oneself to overcome the objection that such a project is naïve, utopian or just plain foolish and, second, organizing enthusiastic participants to develop and test a prototype, experimenting with various implementation strategies on a small scale before attempting a bolder and larger scale version of the project. Apropos of this second requirement, I showcase the Center for Education in Law and Democracy’s “The High School Ethics Project” in the state of Colorado. (shrink)
Did the pragmatic turn encompass the linguistic turn in the history of philosophy? Or was the linguistic turn a turn away from pragmatism? Some commentators identify the so-called “eclipse” of pragmatism by analytic philosophy, especially during the Cold War era, as a turn away from pragmatist thinking. However, the historical evidence suggests that this narrative is little more than a myth. Pragmatism persisted, transforming into a more analytic variety under the influence of Quine and Putnam and, more recently, a continental (...) version in the hands of Richard Rorty and Cornel West. In this paper, I argue that proof of the linguistic turn’s presence as a moment in a broader pragmatic turn in philosophy can be garnered from close examination of a single article, W. V. O. Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” and a single issue: whether the analytic-synthetic distinction is philosophically defensible. (shrink)
In this paper, I evaluate three views of philosophical pragmatism’s practical implications for academic and non-academic or public discourses, as well as offer my own view of those implications. The first view is that of George Novack. In an underappreciated tract, Pragmatism versus Marxism, the American Trotskyite and union organizer launched a vicious attack on John Dewey’s career as a professional philosopher. He alleged that Dewey’s ideas were inaccessible to all but a small community of fellow academicians. While Novack conceded (...) that Dewey’s philosophical inquiries had a cross-pollinating influence on other academic fields, he doubted that the beneficial products of those inquiries traveled far beyond the walls of the so-called ‘ivory tower.’ Larry Hickman offers a second view. He understands Dewey’s claim in Experience and Nature that philosophy serves as a “liaison officer” to mean that philosophers should provide a common lexicon that translates between the languages of distinct disciplines. In other words, for Dewey, the role of philosophy, including philosophical pragmatism, is to facilitate interdisciplinarity. Since interdisciplinary sharing is usually confined to academic discourse, Novack’s challenge is perfectly compatible with Hickman’s interpretation of Dewey’s ‘liaison officer’ claim. Both Novack and Hickman are mistaken, though in different degrees and for different reasons. The third, and more promising, view is advanced by Robert Talisse. He cites the life and works of Sidney Hook, one of Dewey’s better-known students, as an exemplary case of a pragmatist who consistently realized his pragmatic commitments in public discourse. The most important reason for qualifying Hickman’s interpretation of Dewey’s ‘liaison officer’ claim is that the measure of pragmatism’s value is not solely the ability of pragmatists to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, but their ability to also insert their ideas into public discourse. In my view, philosophical pragmatists, and philosophers generally, should both facilitate interdisciplinarity in academic discourse and introduce philosophical notions into public discourse—that is, serving in the dual capacity of interdisciplinary scholar and public intellectual. (shrink)
An extensive literature on pragmatism and compromise, as well as their relationship to civic and political leadership, can be found in the field of Public Administration (hereafter PA). PA is broadly defined as that discipline of study addressing the development, institutionalization and reconstruction of bureaucratic-governmental organizations as well as the policies they are tasked to implement—or more “[s]imply stated . . . the management of government agencies." However, the literature is not limited to the works of PA scholars and practitioners. (...) It also encompass the writings of philosophers, and specifically philosophical pragmatists, who can contribute “a kind of methodological sophistication that either sharpens the issues at point in public controversy or discloses the absence of real or genuine issues, thus clarifying the options open for decision." In this literature, questions arise as to how unelected leaders in governmental bureaucracies are guided by pragmatism or pragmatic ideas to (i) negotiate with stakeholders to fashion appropriate compromise agreements, (ii) solve policy problems within a zone of legally mandated authority, (iii) clearly articulate the scope and content of that body of knowledge considered PA scholarship, (iv) understand the origins of PA as a distinct discipline and (v) bridge between the abstract principles offered by PA theorists and the concrete practices of bureaucratic-governmental organizations and public administrators. Classified thematically, these issues fit into four areas: first, controversy over whether administrative action is legitimate (i and ii); second, the PA’s identity crisis as a discipline (iii and iv); third, the gap between theory and practice (v); and fourth, the difficulty of integrating pragmatism and PA (i through v). (shrink)
What is the normative significance of school gardening for environmental activism and activists today? Philosophical treatments generally highlight gardening's importance for human well-being, aesthetic theory, and urban landscape design. Several accounts of John Dewey's educational philosophy draw attention to the school gardens tended by students at the University of Chicago's Experimental School. However, these typically neglect the social and political significance of Dewey's writings on school gardening. One way to bring the normative dimension of school gardening to the fore is (...) to compare Dewey's work on the topic with more recent scholarship on the politics of gardening movements. In this paper, the object of comparison is an essay by the Community Studies scholar Mary Beth Pudup. While Pudup's and Dewey's approaches are not identical, the comparison proves fruitful in so far as it exposes the political reasons for gardening education, relates school gardening to contemporary gardening movements and gives the call for creating more school garden projects greater normative force—or so I argue. (shrink)
In Law, Pragmatism and Democracy, Richard Posner wrestles with the ghost of John Dewey for the mantle of pragmatist jurisprudence. Most commentators have seen this work as pitting Posner against Dewey in a contest of pragmatisms, the stakes for which are no less than their respective legacies for legal and democratic theory. Some have sided with Posner and others with Dewey. I contend that the commentators have misidentified the target of Posner’s critique. Posner had another legal theorist in mind and (...) he was disingenuous in naming Dewey. A careful reconstruction of Posner’s argument shows that Dewey’s pragmatism provides a genuine middle way between Posner’s position and that of his intended rival. (shrink)
John Locke is often understood as the inaugurator of the modern discussion of personal human identity—a discussion that inevitably falls back on his own theory with its critical reliance on memory. David Hume and Sigmund Freud would later make arguments for what constituted personal identity, both relying, like Locke, on memory, but parting from Locke's company in respect the role that memory played. The purpose of this paper will be to sketch the groundwork for Locke's own theory of personal identity (...) and consider some common objections tied to his special reliance on memory. Then, we will investigate the extent to which Hume and Freud refined their respective concepts of self-identity in ways that escape some of the most intractable objections to Locke's theory in its dependence on memory. Finally, we will consider which theorist's conception of self-identity best accords with our notion of the cyber-self, or psychological subjectivity in the context of cyberspace. For Locke, the nature of self-identity is that it is continuous across time, and to remain uninterrupted it must be beholden to a psychological process, rather than a material or immaterial substance. (shrink)
Holism is the notion that all the elements in a system, whether physical, biological, social or political, are interconnected and therefore should be appreciated as a whole. Consequently, the meaning or function of the total system is irreducible to the meaning or function of one or more of the system’s constituent elements. The whole is, on the holist’s account, prior to its parts. In the Metaphysics, Aristotle captures the idea of holism in his statement that “the whole is more than (...) the sum of the parts.” The term holism was coined by South African statesman and scholar Jan Smuts. Etymologically, it comes from a Greek root meaning total, whole, entire or everything. In political thought, the idea is commonly associated with organicism, the view that the state is a living whole (the so-called “body politic”) and therefore studies of the how it functions should be treated systematically rather than piecemeal (cf. Plato, G.W.F. Hegel and Henry Maine). (shrink)
The American rock band KISS is notorious. Its notoriety derives not only from the band’s otherworldly costumes (except for of course during the unmasked period), the fact that they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, their numerous hit records or the amazing stage theatrics and pyrotechnics of their live shows. It’s also related to the band’s constantly changing makeup (and I don’t mean the kind on their faces!). Of the four members, only Paul Stanley and Gene (...) Simmons were fixtures. With so many changes to the band’s composition, has KISS always remained the same band? Some see this head-scratcher as roughly similar to a conundrum in philosophical metaphysics (that’s the area of philosophy addressing problems of existence): the puzzle of Theseus’s ship. (shrink)
Not long after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, an American citizen was captured by U.S. soldiers on he battlefield carrying a weapon and wearing the dress of a Taliban soldier. Heralded by the news media as the “American Taliban,” he became a spectacle, bound, gagged, naked and blind-folded on a stretcher in a photo taken soon after his capture. The story of how the homeschooled twenty-year-old from a middle-class Northern California family became an enemy combatant in the Afghani desert piqued (...) the popular imagination. After converting to Islam, he went to Yemen, learned Arabic, returned home and then left again to attend a madrassa (or Islamic religious school) before receiving training at an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Some Americans reacted to the young man’s story with wonder; others with loathing. How did this youth stray from the values that most Americans hold dear? In fact, he did not. Similar to Paul Maud’dib who, at the end of Dune Messiah, wandered into the desert a blind holy man, the American Taliban had acted in accordance with values that most American prize: self-reliance, ingenuity, spirituality and practical know-how. It is widely believed that the Fremen culture derives from their religion, Zensunni , an imaginative blending of Zen Buddhism and Sunni Muslim beliefs. However, a closer look reveals that the Fremen (similar to the American Taliban) were shockingly American in their core values. To demonstrate this, I begin by discussing the weirdness of Dune’s Fremen, their religion, customs and lifestyle. Then, I give a brief summary of American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay “Self-Reliance” followed by a similar treatment of John Dewey’s notion of democracy as a way of life. The essay returns to paint a clearer picture of the American Fremen and their exhilarating though dangerous faith in jihad as a way of life. (shrink)
Richard Bernstein’s recent book The Pragmatic Turn is a first-rate scholarly work, an enduring contribution to the literature on the history of Pragmatism, and one that is very difficult to find fault with. Since I am a Dewey scholar and a democratic theorist, I will focus mainly on the book’s third chapter (“John Dewey’s Vision of Radical Democracy”) and its relation to Bernstein’s overall thesis: namely, that “during the past 150 years, philosophers working in different traditions have explored and refined (...) themes that were prominent in the pragmatic movement.” While Bernstein criticizes several of Dewey’s intellectual opponents (e.g., Maine, Trotsky and Lippmann), he does not excuse Dewey and his democratic theory from similarly exacting scrutiny—as some Dewey scholars are guilty of. Indeed, a recurring critique in the third chapter is that Dewey’s democratic theory is too light on particulars, saying very little about how to institutionalize the ideal he sets forth. I think that there is a good reason for Dewey’s vagueness, and that reason comes forth when we appreciate the turn within the pragmatic turn. Some philosophical historians draw attention to philosophy’s large-scale or macro-level turns, such as the so-called “pragmatic” and “linguistic” turns, but tend to ignore the small-scale or micro-level turns within those broader turns. Bernstein is not one of them. Democratic theory experienced a deliberative turn in the late twentieth-century, followed by a turn toward more practical issues, such as testing, applying and institutionalizing the deliberative democratic ideal. Likewise, we encounter a more recent turn within pragmatist studies, which manifests in the secondary literature on John Dewey’s pragmatism. Download PDF . (shrink)
Besides being the title of an EP by The (International) Noise Conspiracy, “Bigger cages, longer chains!” is an anarchist rallying cry. It’s meant to ridicule those political activists who compromise their ideals, make demands and then settle for partial concessions or, to put it bluntly, bargain with the Man. In the T.V. series Mr. Robot, Christian Slater plays the anarchist leader of a hacktivist group known as fsociety. Mr. Robot won’t negotiate with the FBI and E(vil) Corp for bigger cages (...) and longer chains. He tells Elliot Anderson, the young cybersecurity expert and hacker, “We live in a kingdom of bullshit!” Victory over the tyranny of corporations and states requires radical means to achieve radical ends. Mr. Robot wants freedom without limits, total liberation from corporate and statist control, and the opportunity to live in a world without bullshit. Mr. Robot’s objective is to free citizens of first-world nations from the cages of consumer debt and citizens of third-world nations from the shackles of extreme poverty. Meeting half-way will not do. So what are the inspirations for Mr. Robot’s hacktivist philosophy? The most proximate sources are David Graeber’s anarchism, which also influenced the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the hacktivist group Anonymous’s moralfaggery, that is, the policy of some of its members to use collective computer hacking to serve the greater good. Candidates for more remote sources are Marxism and pragmatism; the former, a blueprint for freeing the working class from their bourgeois oppressors; the latter, a philosophy of action, intelligent inquiry and democratic reform. Some might object that pragmatism is too conventional to be compatible with the radical ideas that motivate Mr. Robot’s worldview. Hacktivism demands action, not mere thinking! But any organized social-political movement requires a well-thought-out plan as well as a vision of what its participants hope to achieve. Since pragmatism is a philosophy of action and reform, it’s possible that Mr. Robot is a closet pragmatist! (shrink)
Part of John Andrew Rice’s legacy, besides being a founder of Black Mountain College, is his vision of what a small liberal arts college curriculum should be. This vision helps shed light on some possible avenues by which to answer the following important questions: What implications do John Dewey’s progressive educational ideas have for experimenting with curricular design at small colleges? Does the college teacher’s struggle for improvement or growth depend on her having a belief that there is an ideal (...) liberal arts college curriculum? Probably the best known of such ready-made curricula is the Great Books Program, which employs a list of classic primary-source texts as the entry point into highly engaged dialogue, scholarship and learning guided by a teacher or tutor. In order to answer these questions, the paper turns to the historical debate between John Dewey and Robert Maynard Hutchins over the relative merits of progressive educational ideals and the Great Books approach. Most who have commented on this debate emphasize the differences between Dewey and Hutchins’ views.[ii] While Dewey emphasized learning through practical problem solving, in a dynamic mix of subject matter and method, Hutchins stressed exposure to and discussion of at least one-hundred primary texts in the Western canon, from Plato and Aristotle to Emerson and J.S. Mill. Hutchins resisted what he saw as the progressive educator’s push to transform the proper end of educating the whole person into training her for a particular vocation. In response, Dewey criticized Hutchins’ insistence that there existed a “hierarchy of truths” and that higher learning should remain aloof to the concerns of everyday life. Few commentators, however, mention the significant areas of agreement between the pedagogical approaches of Dewey and Hutchins, as well as other Great Books scholars. Since Rice praised the ideas of at least one Great Books proponent (Stringfellow Barr of St. John’s College), a more positive reconstruction of the Dewey-Hutchins exchange helps us to see how Dewey’s ideas informed Rice’s vision for the experimental college at Black Mountain—or so I argue.[iii]. (shrink)
The notion of the “deep state” or a “state within a state” is creepy, to say the least. It indicates the existence of a shadowy group of unelected bureaucrats deeply embedded in the military-intelligence establishment secretly manipulating government policy. International relations scholars and public administration experts associate deep states with authoritarian regimes, such as Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and pre-civil-war Syria. However, as we’re finding out, the U.S. has its own deep state. While some media outlets portray deep state talk as (...) tantamount to conspiracy theory, the deep state is quite real. (shrink)
Any treatment of the relationship between pragmatism and politics would be incomplete without considering the multiple areas in which pragmatist thought and political studies intersect. Extensive scholarly work on pragmatism and politics can be found in the broad literature on political science, democratic theory, global political theory, public administration, and public policy. To a lesser extent, scholarship employing a pragmatist approach can be found in other subfields of political studies, including American politics and international relations. Unfortunately, the few works in (...) these subfi elds tend to appeal to a generic form of pragmatism (e.g., pragmatism as brute instrumentalism or pragmatism as vicious opportunism), not the robust version associated with classic and contemporary philosophical pragmatism.1 Most works on classic pragmatism and politics draw heavily on John Dewey’s political writings. Pragmatism’s two other founders remained relatively silent on the subject; in Robert Talisse’s words, “neither [Charles Sanders] Peirce nor [William] James wrote systematically about politics.” Neo-pragmatist treatments of politics can be found in the works of the late Richard Rorty, Cornell West, and Richard Posner. (shrink)
Imagine you are the CEO of a hospital [. . .]. Decisions are constantly being made in your organization about how to spend the organization's money. The amount of money available to spend is never adequate to pay for everything you wish you could spend it on, therefore you must set spending priorities. There are two questions you need to be able to answer . . . How should we set priorities in this organization? How do we know when we (...) are doing it well? When people seek to achieve good public policy, the result will tend to be good public policy. In a collective choice process, public‐spirited individual participants produce good public policy by deliberating—talking with each other, listening to each other's arguments, and being willing to learn and change their minds based on such dialogue. –Steven Kelman (1992: 181) Public policy scholars agree that those persons (or agencies) vested with the authority to establish health care priorities should elicit public input before making rationing decisions. The two most common approaches are (i) consultation and (ii) deliberation. Though deliberation has obvious advantages over consultation, it falters in the face of the objection that ordinary citizens lack the cognitive resources for the extended, rigorous inquiry required of them in undertaking the priority‐setting task. To overcome this objection, I propose that deliberative forums for health care rationing should be designed so that they imitate the natural pattern of human experience. The experience of deliberation should encompass both prolonged periods of less‐demanding cognitive activity, in which citizens passively receive information, and briefer periods of more‐demanding cognitive activity, in which they engage in active problem‐solving. In arguing for this thesis, I rely on two theoretical sources and one practical case study, in the following order: (i) John Dewey's metaphysics of experience, (ii) cognitive science research on schemas and frames, and (iii) the Health Care Council in São Paulo, Brazil. (shrink)
John Dewey's metaphysics of experience has been criticized by a number of philosophers-most notably, George Santayana and Richard Rorty. While mainstream Dewey scholars agree that these critical treatments fail to treat the American Pragmatist theory of what exists on its own terms, there has still been some difficulty reaching consensus on what the casual reader should take away from the pages of Experience and Nature, Deweys seminal work on naturalistic metaphysics. So, how do we unearth the significance of Dewey's misunderstood (...) metaphysics? One way is for philosophers to look to spatial and social-cultural geographers for help. To fully grasp the movement of experience, these geographers recommend that we start with an experiential activity, such as touring. The activity of sea kayak touring, I contend, discloses the general movement of experience in Dewey's metaphysics between its primary and secondary phases. With this illustration and a closely connected metaphor, I demonstrate that Dewey's naturalized metaphysics can not only withstand the objections of the likes of Santayana and Rorty it can also assist us in gaining a deeper appreciation of the qualitative richness of our own day-to-day practices. (shrink)
Environmental justice refers to many things: a global activist movement, local groups that struggle to redress the inequitable distribution of environmental goods (and bads), especially as they affect minority communities, as well as a vast body of interdisciplinary scholarship documenting and motivating these movements. In the past three decades, scholarly debates over what environmental justice requires have been dominated by a discourse of rights.
Heralded as the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison was, besides one of the most influential architects of the U.S. Constitution, a man of letters, a politician, a scientist and a diplomat who left an enduring legacy for American philosophical thought. As a tireless advocate for the ratification of the Constitution, Madison advanced his most groundbreaking ideas in his jointly authoring The Federalist Papers with John Jay and Andrew Hamilton. Indeed, two of his most enduring ideas—the large republic thesis and (...) the argument for government separation-of-powers/checks-and-balances—are contained in there. In his life’s work, Madison fused together the three dominant philosophies in post-revolutionary, antebellum America: Lockean liberalism, classical republicanism and Christian Protestantism. (shrink)
In the past four years, a small but intense debate has transpired on the margins of mainstream scholarship in the discipline of Philosophy, particularly within the sub-field of American pragmatism. While most philosophical pragmatists dedicate their attention to questions concerning how ideas improve experience (or the theory-practice continuum), those participating in this exchange have shown greater concern for an issue that is, at its core, a theoretical matter: Does the theory of experience espoused by the classic American philosopher John Dewey (...) succumb to what contemporary analytic philosophers—for instance, Wilfred Sellars, Donald Davidson and John McDowell—call the Myth of the Given? One commentator, Scott Aikin, claims that Dewey relied on non-inferential and non-conceptual content or givens as perceptual inputs for cognitive experience. The upshot of Aikin’s objection is that these experiential givens constitute a proxy epistemological foundation for the beliefs that flow from inquiry—a position clearly in conflict with Dewey’s commitment to anti-foundationalism. The objection assumes a slightly different form in the hands of another scholar of American pragmatism, Colin Koopman. Gregory Pappas and David Hildebrand respond to Koopman’s version of the objection. The goals of this essay are to clarify the objection, highlight the stakes in the debate, identify misunderstandings of Dewey’s experiential metaphysics on both sides, and determine why the experiential givenism objection merits serious philosophical scrutiny in the future. (shrink)
The American philosopher John Dewey is probably best known for his contributions to educational philosophy, though his writings on logic, metaphysics, epistemology and value theory are for the most part equally impressive. Before and after his death in 1952, he was lauded as “America’s philosopher” and a “public intellectual for the twentieth century.” During the early 1920s, to call Dewey an internationalist would be to state the obvious. He had travelled to Japan, Russia, Mexico, Turkey and China. Of all these (...) places, he stayed in China the longest—two years and two months (May 1919 to July 1921)—and wrote the most about his experiences there. Unfortunately, too much of the extent literature speaks to how Dewey influenced China. In this brief paper the author focuses on the question of how China changed Dewey. Before attempting this project it helps to explicate how Dewey conceived experience—to paint a picture of his so-called “metaphysics of experience”—in order to then appreciate how he conceived his own China experience. (shrink)
Jason Frank's book can be situated in this second wave. Similar to other agonistic theorists, he focuses on the affective, aesthetic, and strategic dimensions of politics, while assuming that conflict and struggle are inevitable features of political experience.
Standard methods for teaching Deliberative Democratic Theory in the philosophy classroom include presenting theories in the historical order in which they originated, by theorist or in various thematic categories, including criticisms of the theories. However, if Simone Chambers is correct and DDT has truly entered “a working theory stage,” whereby the theory and practice of deliberation receive equal consideration, then such approaches may no longer be appropriate for teaching DDT. I propose that DDT be taught using the Critical Friends discussion (...) protocol. This protocol enables high quality deliberation in the context of a supportive intellectual community. The key advantage of my proposal is that the CF pedagogical framework empowers students to conceive DDT through the lens of their own and others’ deliberative practices. By referring to a rather than the strategy, this proposal does not specify the single right way to teach DDT, but suggests one among a field of possibilities. (shrink)
With Spanish the third most widely spoken language in the world, one would expect more Spanish translations of important texts in American philosophy. Given the recent publication of a Spanish translation of The Public and Its Problems (1927), more people have access to John Dewey’s ideas about democracy than ever before. A broader readership might bring greater inclusivity to the existing debate over the significance of Dewey’s legacy for democratic theory. For the past few years, this debate has raged almost (...) exclusively between English-speaking scholars. Many have responded to the arguments of Richard Posner, the law professor and Circuit Court judge who delivered a scathing critique of Dewey’s legacy in his book Law, Pragmatism and Democracy (2003). Even if new readers of The Public and Its Problems fail to join the debate, they will at least be better equipped to evaluate Posner’s arguments with some appreciation for the object of his criticism. Hopefully they will come to acknowledge Dewey’s contribution as a vital thread in the tapestry of thought making up contemporary currents in democratic theory—currents that University of Toronto professor Frank Cunningham collectively labels “democratic pragmatism.” See his Theories of Democracy (Routledge, 2002). Ramon Del Castillo’s introduction to the translation captures the rich context of Dewey’s work on democratic theory. It places the book in the proper historical milieu, 1920s America at the time of the height and decline of American Progressivism. It also juxtaposes The Public and Its Problems against Lippmann’s two earlier works, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925). (shrink)
Parental overuse of portable technology poses a bonafide threat to the welfare and development of children. In the past decade, researchers have documented this phenomenon whereby parents pay far more attention to handheld electronic devices than to their children's safety and developmental needs. What most studies have failed to examine is the extent to which workers in privately owned and operated daycares also exhibit technology-induced distracted behavior. This article aims to identify the moral harm of caregivers' distracted behaviour in a (...) private daycare setting or, more simply, the welfare effects of distracted daycare. First, with the assistance of recent research, the phenomenon of distracted caregiving is defined. Then, the documented harms of distracted caregiving in a daycare setting are catalogued. Next, an ethical analysis of the phenomenon of distracted daycare working is undertaken from four normative ethical perspectives: (i) ethical egoism, (ii) utilitarianism, (iii) principlism and (iv) care ethics. Five recommendations for reforming distracted daycares, each based upon one or more of the four ethical perspectives, inform the article's conclusions. (shrink)
Despite Jon Elster’s caveat that the market potentially endangers the forum, Goodin insists that commercial innovations, such as the focus group and the market test, would actually strengthen democracy and citizen engagement. His thesis in this book is that governments should task members of smallscale deliberative bodies — or what he calls, in the singular, a ‘micro-public’, and what Robert Dahl before him termed a ‘mini-populus’ — to experiment with alternative solutions to public problems. While the book is a collection (...) of previously published essays, many are extensively altered and rewritten to support this thesis and to round out a literature that has recently become increasingly oriented toward deliberative practice. Indeed, Goodin is more circumspect than some of the less praxis-focused deliberative theorists — for instance, Jürgen Habermas — concerning the capacity of deliberative forums to displace traditional democratic institutions: ‘Inevitably . . . deliberative democracy can only supplement rather than supplant the institutional apparatus of representative democracy as we know it’ (7-8). The book is organized into two sections, one concerning the design and function of small-scale deliberative bodies or micro-publics, and the other devoted to deliberative activities in macro-political institutions, including the translation of micro-public recommendations into sound public policy (what is often called ‘uptake’). (shrink)
This chapter explores the personal and professional obstacles faced by Humanities and Social Science scholars contemplating pre-publication of their scholarly work in an on-line network. Borrowing a theoretical framework from the radical educational theorist Ivan Illich, it also develops the idea that pre-publication networks offer higher education a bottom-up, decentralized alternative to business-modeled e-learning. If learners would only embrace this more anarchical medium, appreciating writing for pre-publication as a process of open-ended discovery rather than product delivery, then the prospect of (...) deinstitutionalizing e-learning could become an exciting new reality. The chapter’s methodology is a combination of normative-theoretical analysis and small sample (n=2) case study based on the author’s personal and professional experiences. While the generalizability (or external validity) of the conclusions is limited, the author hopes to motivate further inquiry into the connection between on-line pre-publication and e-learning. (shrink)
What is pragmatism's contribution, actual or potential, to contemporary International Relations theory and practice? Is there hope for constructing a pragmatist theory of International Relations? The author of this article takes up these questions by considering whether Barack Obama is a pragmatist in his handling of issues in international affairs. By examining a series of Obama speeches, the author teases out the raw material for a pragmatist theory of International Relations, demonstrating how the pragmatic practice of international diplomacy can inform (...) a pragmatist theory of International Relations. (shrink)
Confirming his moniker as “America’s philosopher of democracy,” John Dewey engaged in a series of public debates over the course of his lifetime, vividly demonstrating how his thought translates into action. These debates made Dewey a household name and a renowned public intellectual during the early to mid-twentieth century, a time when the United States fought two World Wars, struggled through an economic depression, experienced explosive economic growth and spawned a grassroots movement that characterized an entire era: Progressivism. Unfortunately, much (...) recent Dewey scholarship neglects to situate Dewey’s ideas in the broader context of his activities and engagements as a public intellectual. This project charts a path through two of Dewey’s actual debates with his contemporaries, Leon Trotsky and Robert Hutchins, to two reconstructed debates with contemporary intellectuals, E.D. Hirsch and Robert Talisse, both of whom criticized Dewey’s ideas long after the American philosopher’s death and, finally, to two recent debates, one on home schooling and the other on U.S. foreign policy, in which Dewey’s ideas offer a unique and compelling vision of a way forward. (shrink)