Quote of the Week: Dewey on Social Judgements

The evils in current social judgments of ends and policies arise […] from importations of judgments of value from outside inquiry. The evils spring from the fact that the values employed are not determined in and by the process of inquiry […].

-John Dewey, Late Works Volume 12, p. 496

The quote illustrates Dewey’s emphasis on the epistemic endeavour of inquiry. The values which lead our social judgements should arise out of this endeavour, at least as far as Dewey is concerned.

The quote also reveals how moralising Dewey can be concerning social judgments. He does not merely accuse the judgements of being bad, he accuses them of being evil. I find this moralising aspect of his theory the hardest to justify. In the end, I do not see how he can defend it without contradicting himself or accepting a fundamental revision to this theory.

If you want, you can add here the usual paragraph about defending the value of inquiry/science/truth in the age of alternative facts.

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Reading: Arlie Hochschild “Strangers in Their Own Land”

It took me a while, but I finally found the time to read Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land.  The book addresses burning questions: How came the USA to be so politically divided? How does the other side relative to Hochschild, that is the right-wing tea-party, see the divide? How do emotions influence the political allegiances?

But being a philosopher I want to discuss the methodology and underlying theory of the book instead of those juicy topics. I hope that this discussion is at least as interesting. In fact, the philosophical aspect might be of more lasting interest. The political landscape of the US will shift sooner or later, while the insights for sociological theory might stay with us for a long time. And at the end of this post, politics creeps in after all. Continue reading “Reading: Arlie Hochschild “Strangers in Their Own Land””

A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part II

This is the second part of a short, introductory dialogue. For the first part go here.


G: So do you agree with the following: You believe that one ought to act with the safe belief that there is a clearly right path in public matter, which is a political position, while I hold that one ought not to act with such a safe belief, which is political position insofar it denies your political position?

L: That is a completely different matter, not a political disagreement. This is disagreement between us is all about belief and certitude, not about how to spend one’s life. The disagreement is only about what to believe and so on, not about what one ought to do.

G: Are you not here at this demonstration because you believe the government ought not to act the way it does?

L: Yes, but… Continue reading “A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part II”

A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part I

As I wrote in my very first blog post, I want to try things out in this blog. In this post I am trying something new for me, I publish the first part of a dialogue I have written.

The topics of the dialogue are mostly introductory. There are important philosophical issues touched upon without these issues being simplified, but the text does not presuppose any prior knowledge of philosophy.

Readers acquainted with ancient philosophy will be quick to spot the influence of Platonic dialogues. However, the positions the speakers take are not quite the same you find in typical dialogues by Platon. I leave to my readers to formulate, what exactly the difference is.

Note that I am not a native speaker when it comes to English and the literary quality might suffer because of this. If you find any orthographic or grammatical mistakes I would be happy to be corrected in the comments. Continue reading “A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part I”

What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part II

Portrait of G. W. F. Hegel
G. W. F. Hegel

I continue with my discussion of four paper on Hegel’s theory of the state as presented in his Philosophy of Right by discussing the last two papers. For the first two papers by Riedel and Sedgwick see this post. The papers I discuss this time are by Hans-Martin Jaeger and Thom Brooks.

  • Jaeger, Hans-Martin. 2002: “Hegel’s Reluctant Realism and the Transnationalisation of Civil Society”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 28. Issue 3. 497-517.
  • Brooks, Thom. 2004. “Hegel’s Theory of International Politics: A Reply to Jaeger”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 30. Issue 1. 149-152.

While the first two papers discussed how Hegel’s theory of the state in the Philosophy of Right relates to philosophical positions which historically precede Hegel, the last two paper discuss Hegel in relation to current theories of the state. Continue reading “What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part II”