John Dewey's Ethics

John Dewey's Ethics

Democracy as Experience
Gregory Fernando Pappas
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/10/2008
Format: paper 368 pages
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21979-4
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John Dewey, widely known as "America's philosopher," provided important insights into education and political philosophy, but surprisingly never set down a complete moral or ethical philosophy. Gregory Fernando Pappas presents the first systematic and comprehensive treatment of Dewey's ethics. By providing a pluralistic account of moral life that is both unified and coherent, Pappas considers ethics to be key to an understanding of Dewey's other philosophical insights, especially his views on democracy. Pappas unfolds Dewey's ethical vision by looking carefully at the virtues and values of ideal character and community. Showing that Dewey's ethics are compatible with the rest of his philosophy, Pappas corrects the reputation of American pragmatism as a philosophy committed to skepticism and relativism. Readers will find a robust and boldly detailed view of Dewey's ethics in this groundbreaking book.

Author Bio

Gregory Fernando Pappas is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is the author of numerous articles on the philosophy of William James and John Dewey. He has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship as well as the William James and the Latin American Thought prizes by the American Philosophical Association.


"Extremely clear, careful, and straightforward . . . always solid and often refreshing." —Shannon Sullivan, The Pennsylvania State University

"A distinct and important interpretation of Dewey's moral philosophy." —Todd Lekan, Muskingum College

"Gregory Pappas gives us a Dewey whose emphasis on the qualitative aspects of experience has the power to greatly enrich contemporary debates about ethics and democracy. . . . This well organized and carefully argued work will surely take its place among the most influential studies of Dewey's philosophy." —Larry Hickman, The Center for Dewey Studies

"John Dewey, perhaps the most prolific figure in American philosophy and pragmatism, is roundly considered deficient with respect to ethics. Pappas (Texas A&M) addresses this misconception by demonstrating that ethics is the organizing center of Dewey's entire philosophical approach. . . . This book handles Dewey's disparate texts and broad research adeptly, and focuses on the issues of experience and experiment in a holistic treatment of pragmatic ethics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers." —
Choice , February 2009

". . . an extensive and pioneering elucidation of John Dewey's ethics. [The author] thoughtfully articulates Dewey's quest to bring qualitative experience to the forefront of moral thought. Pappas' new book is a grand contibution to the chronicles of Deweyan thought." —Marjorie Cavey, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale,
Kinesis , Vol. 35.1 Spring 2008

"[This] book is impressive in scope and accomplishment. Pappas draws on the entire corpus of Dewey's work to reconstruct Dewey's mature moral philosophy and convincingly shows that Dewey's view is not only distinct and defensible philosophically, but vital for dealing with contemporary real-world concerns." —
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society

"[A] sporting analogy for ethics reinforces Pappas's essential point, that the best ethics for democracy emerge on the playing fields of experience. John Dewey's philosophy articulates that promise, while Gregory Pappas's work marks the maturing of the awareness of its relevance for modern democracies in search of themselves." —Journal of American Studies

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Part 1. Moral Theory and Experience
1. Experience as Method
2. Moral Theory and Moral Practice
3. The Normative Standpoint of Pragmatism
Part 2. Dewey's View of Moral Experience
4. Morality as Experience
5. The "What" of Moral Experience
6. The "How" of Moral Experience
7. Character and Conduct: Dewey and the Great Divide in Ethics
8. Present Activity and the Meaning of Moral Life
9. Conclusion: The Need for a Recovery of Moral Philosophy
Part 3. The Ideal Moral Life
10. The Intelligent, Aesthetic, and Democratic Way of Life
11. The Ideal Moral Self
12. Democracy as the Ideal Moral Community
13. A Philosophical Justification of Democracy