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Pragmatism and the Epistemic Defense of Democracy

Pragmatism and the Epistemic Defense of Democracy Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 4, No. 2 (December 2007), 3­9 Editions Rodopi © 2007 Robert Westbrook argues in Democratic Hope that for the pragmatist "all believers [must] be democrats simply by virtue of their desire to assert their beliefs as true," and that they must therefore "open their beliefs to the widest possible range of experience and inquiry." I argue against this view that doubt, not belief, lies at the center of the pragmatic theory of inquiry, and that our beliefs can be placed into doubt only by those whom we consider to be epistemically reliable. It follows that any connection between pragmatism and democracy must be empirical and not conceptual in nature. When I first became interested in pragmatism more than ten years ago, one of the first books that I turned to was Robert Westbrook's seminal intellectual biography of John Dewey, John Dewey and American Democracy.1 It provided me with an invaluable road map through Dewey's dauntingly large and wideranging corpus, the dauntingly wide range of political movements and figures that he was associated with, and the dauntingly complicated question of the relationship between his life and his thought. As I worked my way through Dewey's writings http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Pragmatism Brill

Pragmatism and the Epistemic Defense of Democracy

Contemporary Pragmatism , Volume 4 (2): 3 – Apr 21, 2007

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2007 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1572-3429
eISSN
1875-8185
DOI
10.1163/18758185-90000066
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 4, No. 2 (December 2007), 3­9 Editions Rodopi © 2007 Robert Westbrook argues in Democratic Hope that for the pragmatist "all believers [must] be democrats simply by virtue of their desire to assert their beliefs as true," and that they must therefore "open their beliefs to the widest possible range of experience and inquiry." I argue against this view that doubt, not belief, lies at the center of the pragmatic theory of inquiry, and that our beliefs can be placed into doubt only by those whom we consider to be epistemically reliable. It follows that any connection between pragmatism and democracy must be empirical and not conceptual in nature. When I first became interested in pragmatism more than ten years ago, one of the first books that I turned to was Robert Westbrook's seminal intellectual biography of John Dewey, John Dewey and American Democracy.1 It provided me with an invaluable road map through Dewey's dauntingly large and wideranging corpus, the dauntingly wide range of political movements and figures that he was associated with, and the dauntingly complicated question of the relationship between his life and his thought. As I worked my way through Dewey's writings

Journal

Contemporary PragmatismBrill

Published: Apr 21, 2007

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