Lessons from America's public philosopher

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This article argues for a definition of public philosophy inspired by John Dewey's understanding of the "supreme intellectual obligation." The first section examines five strong reasons why more public philosophy is needed and why the growing movement in public philosophy should be encouraged. The second section begins with a review of common understandings of public philosophy as well as some initial challenges that call for widening our conception of the practice. Then, it applies Dewey's argument in "The Supreme Intellectual Obligation" to public philosophy, which must not be seen simply as a one-way street from intellectuals to the masses but, rather, as the task of fostering the scientific attitude and intellectual habits of mind in all citizens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-135
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speculative Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Intellectual
  • John Dewey
  • Obligation
  • Public philosophy
  • Science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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