A comparative study of the social philosophies of John Dewey and Bernard Bosanquet
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The problem of this dissertation is first to examine the form and the rationale for pluralism in the social philosophy of John Dewey; second, to inspect the adequacy of this rationale; and third, to see whether the social philosophy of Bernard Bosanquet provides a supplementation of Dewey's view. In this examination, pluralism is seen as that form of society in which differences are both maintained and unified. Thus pluralism is found as a mean existing somewhere between individualism which is the assertion of differences and absolutism which, as Dewey sees it, is the assertion of the unity. The examination of ground and difference is concerned with that in virtue of which differences may be said to constitute a society. Because pluralism is an attempt to maintain a balance between individualism and absolutism, the dissertation undertakes an examination of Dewey's criticism of both these extremes. It sees in this critique a rejection of social theories which attempt to restrict differences by pre-determining for a person both his nature and his social role. The critique applies especially well to absolutism with its limited categories. Individualism arises as a reaction to absolutism and to the failure of absolutism in social theory to accommodate various social and environmental changes. Yet, for Dewey, individualism is an overreaction. It abstracts a person from the specific social situations in which he is found and thus attempts to state the nature of individuals as such prior to examining the nature of specific individuals in specific situations. After examining Dewey's critique of absolutism and individualism, the dissertation considers Dewey's own social theory. Here it analyzes the social nature of the whole-part relationship as Dewey sees it, and describes the way in which a person is determined by his group memberships as well as the way in which individual differences may be supported or retarded by these memberships. Included in this treatment is an examination of the role of the state as it arises to control the indirect consequences of acts, i.e. to protect the interest of those who, while not the agents of an act, do suffer some of its consequences. The dissertation points out that the state, as such, has, for Dewey, no normative connotation. It becomes a good state when those affected in this way i.e. the public are organized and thus are able to participate in controlling these consequences.
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