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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article outlines John Dewey's conception of inquiry, drawing principally on his late Logic, in order to introduce some key terms and develop a clearer view of the primacy of practical engagement in his understanding of knowledge. It goes on to look at the notion of valuation, as cognitively on all fours with other forms of inquiry. These two sketches set the scene for considering the suspicion that his instrumentalism has nothing determinate to say about the ends to which inquiry is put. One interpretation, put forward by recent sympathetic interpreters of Dewey such as Hilary and Ruth Anna Putnam, is that we should see that certain moral standards are presupposed by the practice of inquiry. It is argued that this is compatible with what Dewey says, and can gather some textual support, but is not the whole story.

Keywords: John Dewey, inquiry, ethics, notion of valuation, instrumentalism, democracy

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