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Dewey's 'democracy without politics': on the failures of liberalism and the frustrations of experimentalism

Wilkinson, Michael A. (2012) Dewey's 'democracy without politics': on the failures of liberalism and the frustrations of experimentalism. Contemporary Pragmatism, 9 (2). pp. 117-142. ISSN 1572-3429

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Democracy, for John Dewey, is emphatically not just a form of government; it is an ethical way of life. And yet, historically, it is in a state of fragility, due to the ascendancy of liberal individualism and market holism, which are practically unable to meet the social needs of the day and threaten to eclipse the public that is essential for democracy to thrive. Exposing the politics of liberal individualism and the huge inequalities it generates, Dewey suggests replacing its social forms with those of the scientific community of enquiry and in particular its ethos of experimentation and co-operation. Dewey, and, less excusably, his contemporary admirers, neglect the politics of experimentalism, failing to explain its manner of concrete resistance (or, in hindsight, its capitulation) to the pathologies of modern capitalism, and to consider, in a more general sense, the significance of political power and political action.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2013 16:09
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 17:24

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