1st Edition

Deweyan Experimentalism and the Problem of Method in Political Philosophy

By Joshua Forstenzer Copyright 2019
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book proposes a pragmatist methodological framework for generating practically relevant political philosophy. It draws on John Dewey’s social and political philosophy to develop an "experimentalist" method, thus charting a middle course between idealism and realism in political philosophy. Deweyan experimentalism promises to balance civic deliberation, empirical facts, and moral considerations by reconstructing Dewey’s pragmatist conceptions of ‘philosophy’ and ‘democracy’ from the perspective of social action. While some authors have taken the steps to articulate Dewey’s experimentalism, they have focused on institutional rather than methodological implications. This book is original in the ways in which it situates the role of ideas in political practice and contemporary political problems. Additionally, it underlines the similarities between today and the historical context in which Dewey wrote, connects Dewey’s social and political philosophy to Greek and Roman mythology, and concludes with a timely case study in which the author’s methodological insights are applied. The result is a book that offers a focused reconstruction of Dewey’s work and shows its relevance for engaging with contemporary issues in political philosophy and political theory.


    Part I

    Chapter 1: The Problem of Method in Political Philosophy

    Part II

    Chapter 2: In Pursuit of Relevance: Dewey's Pragmatist Rejection of the Quest for Certainty

    Chapter 3: Dewey’s Experimentalist Conception of the Role of Philosophy

    Chapter 4: Objecting to Dewey’s Philosophic Ideal

    Part III

    Chapter 5: Dewey’s Call for Democratic Renewal

    Chapter 6: Dewey’s Democratic Ideal: Democracy as a Way of Life

    Chapter 7: Traditional Objections to Deweyan Democracy

    Chapter 8: Deweyan Democracy, Robert Talisse and the Fact of Reasonable Pluralism

    Part IV

    Chapter 9: The Question of Method: Deweyan Experimentalism in Political Philosophy

    Chapter 10: Experimentalism as a Method for 21st Century Political Philosophy: Democratic Innovation, Participatory Budgeting, and Civic Studies


    Joshua Forstenzer is a Faculty Fellow in the Social Sciences and the co-director of the Centre for Engaged Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, UK. Prior to that, he was the Vice-Chancellor's Fellow for the Public Benefit of Higher Education also at the University of Sheffield and a Democracy Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, USA. His work has been published in The Political Quarterly, The Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society, and The Journal of Human Rights and Peace Studies. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Sheffield.

    "Forstenzer's book is a timely and well-researched contribution to the ongoing development of pragmatist political philosophy . . . It is exemplary in its scholarship and focus, and Forstenzer's aspirations to bring Dewey into conversation with contemporary political philosophy are welcome and fecund."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "This inspiring work combines informed and insightful exposition of Dewey’s philosophy with clear and compelling arguments about how to practice philosophy in ways relevant to concrete social and political problems. The scholarship is impressive, the attention to differing views responsible, and the writing style engaging. This is a valuable book for both students and scholars."Martin Coleman, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, USA