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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In order to appreciate the radical and promising character of Dewey’s ethics and sociopolitical theory, we must understand how his approach in these areas of philosophy was a consequence of what he thought should be the starting point of philosophy, that is, his metaphilosophy. Dewey prescribed that philosophers should make an effort to be “empirical” and to take “experience” seriously, but these claims are subject to misunderstandings. The first section of this chapter clarifies what they mean. The second section considers the difference that Dewey’s form of empirical philosophy makes in ethics and third section the difference it makes in approaching sociopolitical problems. Dewey proposes a much more radical approach than similar contemporary approaches that are interested in a shift from traditional approaches centered on ideal theories and abstractions toward a more nonideal contextualist, problem-centered, and inquiry-oriented approach.

Keywords: Dewey, ethics, social and political philosophy, experience, starting point, ideal theory, contextualism, inquiry

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