John Dewey on Pragmatism and Modern American Democracy -A Critical Analysis of Modern American Democracy, and Philosophy’s Proper Role Therein-
McCaffrey, Kevin Michael
Utilizing a brand of pragmatism influenced very largely by John Dewey, Pragmatism and Modern American Democracy examines the state of American democracy and the ways in which it falls short of its purported ideals. By adopting Dewey’s definitions of both democracy and philosophy, the paper argues that the purpose of democracy is to identify and subsequently actualize the collective will of the public. However, American democracy has consistently fallen short of this ideal. The paper extrapolates from Dewey’s explicit argument against the modern American democracy in order to argue that philosophy must be given a central role in empowering the public and therefore helping democracy live up to its ideals. The solution provided by Dewey’s model is to educate the population to incubate and adhere to a critical disposition with regard to their environment. By so doing, the public would be able to more accurately identify their collective needs and subsequently actualize them. Dewey’s model guides people to be critical, identify trends, communicate and to act more intelligently, with the end goal of politically enfranchising the public.