Dewey's Ethical Thought

Dewey's Ethical Thought

by Jennifer Welchman
     
 

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In the first book on the development of John Dewey's ethical thought, Jennifer Welchman revises the prevalent interpretation of his ethics. Her clear and engaging account traces the history of Dewey's distinctive moral philosophy from its roots in idealism during the 1890s through the pragmatist approach of his 1922 work, Human Nature and Conduct. Central to the… See more details below

Overview

In the first book on the development of John Dewey's ethical thought, Jennifer Welchman revises the prevalent interpretation of his ethics. Her clear and engaging account traces the history of Dewey's distinctive moral philosophy from its roots in idealism during the 1890s through the pragmatist approach of his 1922 work, Human Nature and Conduct. Central to the development of Dewey's ethics was his lifelong conviction that the realms of science and morals, facts and values were reconcilable. This conviction, Welchman demonstrates, drove Dewey to reject the orthodox ethics of his day in favor of radical alternatives - first absolute idealism and later pragmatism. She reveals how Dewey came to adopt and subsequently to modify idealist ethics of self-realization. Welchman then explores the transformations in Dewey's conception of science that exploded the fragile truce between fact and value that he had negotiated as an idealist. Finally, she examines how Dewey developed his own instrumentalist accounts of moral value, conduct, and character that culminated in his best-known work of ethics, Human Nature and Conduct.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A careful, incisive, and thorough study. . . . It is based almost exclusively on Dewey's own writings; secondary works are cited rarely and chiefly for the purpose of rebutting them. Historians interested in ideas will find here an internalist history of the development of a major thinker.—Journal of American History

"This account of the development of Dewey's ethics, with an emphasis on his early and middle writings, is the first book-length treatment of this subject. Welchman . . . follows Dewey's ethical thought from its beginnings in idealism through the mature statement of his pragmatic instrumentalism in Human Nature and Conduct. . . . A lucid, fair, and meticulously researched analysis of the development of Dewey's ethical thought and a valuable resource for anyone working in American philosophy or cultural studies."—Choice

"Welchman is an excellent interpreter of the early and middle Dewey. . . fresh and provocative. . . Welchman does what few Deweyan interpreters have done; she analyzes his thinking."—Metaphilosophy

"Welchman's. . . account of Dewey's ethics moves along briskly. It is compact without affecting quality."—Abraham Edel, International Studies in Philosophy, 2000

"This book not only revises the interpretation of Dewey's ethics but also has relevance to recent discussions about the possibility of naturalistic, experimental ethics. Dewey's Ethical Thought will be indispensable for those who seek to understand John Dewey and American culture."—Andrew J. Reck, Tulane University

"There are no detailed studies of Dewey's early and transitional ethical thought, and Welchman has executed the task unusually well. Her account of the evolution of Dewey's conception of the nature of science is both novel and eye-opening. On questions relating to Dewey's transitional period, Welchman's work is superior to that of any other scholar."—James Gouinlock, Emory University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801484278
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
06/28/1997
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.09(w) x 9.05(h) x 1.22(d)

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