Chapter

The Importance of Dewey for Philosophy (and for Much Else Besides)

Kitcher Philip

in Preludes to Pragmatism

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899555
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980154 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899555.003.0002
The Importance of Dewey for Philosophy (and for Much Else Besides)

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This chapter elaborates and defends the author's interpretation of Dewey's work. It traces Dewey's concern that philosophy be connected with life to James's famous criterion of significance—to repeat: a criterion of significance for philosophical questions—and explore what it might mean to say that answering a question might make a difference to someone. The author's approach to difference-making is embedded within a general view of deliberation about values of which he thinks Dewey would approve. Significant questions are those that would be judged as suitable for inquiry by participants in an ideal deliberation, one that involved representatives of the entire range of human points of view, who were tutored so as to expunge factual errors and who were committed to advancing one another's projects. In light of this approach to significance, Dewey's particular choices of issues in three domains are considered: ethics, political theory, and religion. His concern with questions that were live for many of his contemporaries can be contrasted with the turning inward of much late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century philosophy.

Keywords: John Dewey; philosophy; significance; ethics; political theory; religion

Chapter.  9856 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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