A Note on the Dewey-Lippmann Debate

4 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2009

See all articles by Colin D. Pearce

Colin D. Pearce

Clemson University - College of Business and Behavioral Science

Date Written: August 7, 2009


This short paper gives a quick overview of the debate between John Dewey and Walter Lippmann over the relationship of good government to Democracy. Lippmann adopts an "elitist" or "Platonic" stance arguing that above all mass democracy needs the educated guidance of a specially trained few while Dewey takes the view that a "dialectic" is possible between the average citizen and the educated "experts" such that a role for Lippmann's "Philosopher-Expert Kings" would be superfluous. Behind this differnce on the nature of democratic government there is a further opposition between the two men over whether a successful politics requires the Absolute, or the Transcendent as a necessary foundation for its its self-understanding or whether poliitcs is essentially a "piecemeal" process taking its direction from the developments and adaptations amongst the people that of necessity take place in an advanced society.

Keywords: Pragmatism, Dewey, Lippmann, Rorty, Democracy, Metaphysics

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Colin D., A Note on the Dewey-Lippmann Debate (August 7, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1445451 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1445451

Colin D. Pearce (Contact Author)

Clemson University - College of Business and Behavioral Science ( email )

Clemson, SC 29631
United States

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