John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics

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Indiana University Press, Sep 4, 2003 - Philosophy - 184 pages
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While examining the important role of imagination in making moral judgments, John Dewey and Moral Imagination focuses new attention on the relationship between American pragmatism and ethics. Steven Fesmire takes up threads of Dewey's thought that have been largely unexplored and elaborates pragmatism's distinctive contribution to understandings of moral experience, inquiry, and judgment. Building on two Deweyan notions -- that moral character, belief, and reasoning are part of a social and historical context and that moral deliberation is an imaginative, dramatic rehearsal of possibilities -- Fesmire shows that moral imagination can be conceived as a process of aesthetic perception and artistic creativity. Fesmire's original readings of Dewey shed new light on the imaginative process, human emotional make-up and expression, and the nature of moral judgment. This original book presents a robust and distinctly pragmatic approach to ethics, politics, moral education, and moral conduct.


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1 Habit and Character
2 The Pragmatic Turn
3 Pragmatisms Reconstruction of Reason
4 Imagination in Pragmatist Ethics
5 Dramatic Rehearsal
6 The Deweyan Ideal
7 The Moral Artist

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Page 11 - But we need a word to express that kind of human activity which is influenced by prior activity and in that sense acquired; which contains within itself a certain ordering or systematization of minor elements of action; which is projective, dynamic in quality, ready for overt manifestation; and which is operative in some subdued subordinate form even when not obviously dominating activity.

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About the author (2003)

Steven Fesmire teaches philosophy and is chair of environmental studies
at Green Mountain College in Vermont.

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