Ethical Pragmatism and a Pragmatist Ethics
DOI link for Ethical Pragmatism and a Pragmatist Ethics
Ethical Pragmatism and a Pragmatist Ethics book
Dewey’s ethics have been described as simultaneously the most original and the most underappreciated aspect of his philosophy (Pappas 1998). 1 His thinking on ethics is original in the sense that he neither treats ethics in isolation from other topics nor creates an actual ethical theory. Ethics, rather, run through the whole of his work as something underlying much of what he says concerning knowledge, science, community, pedagogy, and psychology. We have already seen in the chapter on philosophy and theory of science that, for Dewey, the sciences are far from value free but are constructed from values. In this light, values are a precondition for science, not an obstacle to it. Sciences are instruments for solving problematic situations, and a good, valid, and significant scientific theory is precisely one that solves problems in a good way. The sciences must thus be regarded as moral sciences, closely linked to human conduct and to our ordinary qualitative world, as Dewey puts it. In the chapter on psychology, we saw that Dewey articulates a specific moral vision for this and related social sciences, namely that they should serve as tools for establishing an informed public, which can itself contribute to the production of a true democratic community. With ethics and values underlying Dewey’s writings to such an extent, it comes as no surprise that Dewey’s ethical ideas are not merely undervalued but also often misunderstood.