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Lectures on Ethics, 1900 - 1901

John Dewey

Donald F. Koch

Publication Year: 2008

In Lectures on Ethics, 1900–1901, Donald F. Koch supplies the only extant complete transcription of the annual three-course sequence on ethics John Dewey gave at the University of Chicago. 

            In his introduction Koch argues that these lectures offer the best systematic, overall introduction to Dewey’s approach to moral philosophy and are the only account showing the unity of his views in nearly all phases of ethical inquiry. These lectures are the only work by Dewey to set forth a complete theory of moral language. They offer a clear illustration of the central methodological questions in the development of a pragmatic instrumentalist ethic and the actual working out of the instrumentalist approach as distinct from simply presenting it as a conclusion.


Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The three courses in which the following lectures were delivered were listed in the Annual Register of the University of Chicago for 1899-1900 (with courses for 1900-1901) as follows: ...

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pp. xi-lviii

During his tenure at the University of Chicago (1894-1904), John Dewey frequently gave a three-course sequence that began in the fall with the "Logic of Ethics," continued in the Winter Quarter with "Psychology of Ethics" or "Psychological Ethics," and concluded with "Social Ethics" or sometimes "Political Ethics" in the Spring Quarter. ...

Annotated Table of Contents

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pp. lix-lxxvi

Logic of Ethics

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Introduction. The Fundamental Ethical Categories

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pp. 3-15

The purpose of this course will be the consideration of the fundamental ethical concepts, to discover whether they have any intrinsic relation to each other, whether they constitute a system of ideas. Duty, obligation, freedom, a standard, responsibility, the law: These are what we mean by fundamental ethical categories. ...

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Section I. The Concept of the Good

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pp. 16-28

The question of the nature of the good would naturally arise to your minds. This cannot be adequately answered except by the course as a whole. It is not a question of logic, which deals only with form; it is a question of conduct, a material question, one of experience. We have to simply find out what the good is. ...

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Section II. An Analysis of Happiness

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pp. 29-41

From a fresh start, a contrast will be made in the immediately succeeding lectures between the two types of ethical theory, leading to the same results as in the preceding lectures. The transcendental school would define the good as perfection and would include in that conception of perfection a distinctively moral element, ...

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Section III. Good as an Ideal

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pp. 42-51

What the empiricist is insisting upon is that the moral good is akin to, must grow out of, the natural satisfaction of life. The ideal good is simply getting as much as possible of the natural goods, satisfactions. Or, if you drop the quantitative idea, the ideal good is to get the best arrangement or harmony of the natural good, ...

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Section IV. Moral Good

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pp. 52-58

The moral good, from the standpoint of the analysis made, is the endeavor to organize all other goods or values which, taken in and of themselves apart from such effort and endeavor, would not be conceived of as specifically moral. Of course they would not be conceived of as immoral but as nonmoral, ...

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Section V. The Category of the Ideal

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pp. 59-68

The question is not so much "What is the content of the ideal?" but "What sort of thing must an ideal be to be an ideal?" This instance might be used to illustrate what seems to me to be the whole point of the logic of ethics. Too often the search is made for the ideal without inquiring into the conditions which must be recognized ...

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Section VI. The Standard

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pp. 69-73

The nature of the standard has already been discussed in speaking of the ideal. It is only necessary to call attention to a certain phase of the ideal and [we] get a preliminary definition of the nature of the standard. We have been insisting on the fact that an ideal, to be valid, must act as a principle of interpretation ...

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Section VII. The Judgment of Right and Wrong

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pp. 74-79

The judgment of right and wrong, involving the application of a standard, is essentially a judgment regarding future action. When applied to something already done it is by considering that act as the outcome of the process. The terms 'good' and 'bad' express in themselves judgments of fact. ...

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Section VIII. Obligation, Responsibility, and Freedom

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pp. 80-96

So far as possible I shall carry on in parallel the three subjects of freedom, obligation, and responsibility, comparing them with each other and with the ideal in order to illustrate the unity of principle which underlies all of these categories. And, at the same time, bring out the point mentioned before: ...

Psychology of Ethics

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Section I. The Possibility of a Psychology of Ethics

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pp. 99-109

The presumption is that a Psychology of Ethics is profitable and possible, that moral conduct can be approached with scientific success from the standpoint of Psychology. The presumption is often denied from the standpoint of the moralist on the ground that Psychology simply gives us facts and events, ...

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Section II. Impulsive Movements Early in Life

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pp. 110-119

We may find two types of explanation on the psychological plane of this relation between impulse and the breakdown of established activities: one of a physiological sort which appears in infancy, especially of the human being; and the other which appears in the breakdown of the established activities of the adult. ...

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Section III. Image, Sensation, Feeling, and Attention

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pp. 120-132

It seems desirable to discriminate between a sensation and a feeling. A sensation always involves a certain greater amount of recognition than a feeling. I should call sound, recognized as a sound, a sensation. But we all have what we call impressions, vague feelings not located in any particular part of the body, ...

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Section IV. The Moral Self: A Broad Overview

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pp. 133-143

This (the moral self) is the fundamental problem on the psychological side and even more on the ethical. In one sense the self must be identified with the entire process. An adequate discussion would bring in the question of the relation of mind and body. ...

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Section V. The Self in Its Affective and Projective Phases

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pp. 144-167

In a general way it strikes me that the term 'feeling' is used in a general sense and in a wider sense. In the wider sense the word 'feeling' is the equivalent of the entire affective process and life, including emotion, sentiment, interests, where the merely personal or immediate reference is very great. ...

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Section VI. Psychological and Ethical Aspects of the Desire Process

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pp. 168-183

Although desire is discussed in connection with the emotional or affective aspects, yet desire is not really to be classified as an emotion. Desire represents rather the projective, impulsive tendencies, with a strong emotional coloring, and clarified and defined somewhat through the presence of the image ...

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Section VII. Discussion of the Good

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pp. 184-198

It is practically impossible to separate the good as ideal and the good as standard from each other. Theoretically I think it is desirable. But questions are apt to arise at once of the nature of the standard of morality and of the nature of the ideal of action. ...

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Section VIII. The Relation of Desire and Good to the Self

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pp. 199-211

Those who insist upon the introduction of a purely transcendental good as the ideal standard of conduct do so as a rule because they have a low opinion of the nature of desire and consequently a low opinion of what the satisfaction of desire consists in. The point of connection with the problem just indicated is as follows: ...

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Section IX. Duty and the Sense of Effort

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pp. 212-225

A simple activity comes to consciousness in the form of a desire only when operating against some obstacle which postpones the immediate expression of activity, and in that postponement throws the activity into doubt and suspense which transforms it at once into an image, ...

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Section X. Ideals Develop Within the Reflective Process

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pp. 226-235

I should like to begin by reviewing a few points made earlier in the discussion, namely, that the process of deliberation represents the process of rehearsing activity in idea when that overt act is postponed. It is, so to speak, trying an act on before it is tried out in the objective, obvious, space and time world. ...

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Section XI. The Intuitive and Empirical Phases of Moral Knowledge

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pp. 236-245

I put the heading in that way in order to state at the outset that I do not consider the two theories [the intuitive and the empirical] mutually exclusive. On the contrary, there is a certain intuitive aspect of moral knowledge and there is a certain empirical element or factor in it. ...

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Section XII. The Feeling of Rightness and the Sense of What Is Right

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pp. 246-252

I should like to indicate the more distinctly ethical bearings of this psychological analysis. I will make a distinction between what I call a "sense of rightness" and the "sense of what is right." The feeling of rightness is essentially intuitive. But the sense of what is right is discursive; it involves more of the discursive element. ...

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Section XIII. The Nature of Motive and Choice, and the Bearing of This on the Question of Freedom

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pp. 253-264

What do we mean by motive? We have already discussed the end presented in the image, or rather in the train of imagery, and arousing in its course reverberations of desire and stimulating effort either for or against. What is the relation between motive and desire if we take the emotional side? ...

Social Ethics

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Section I. Subject Matter of the Course

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pp. 267-277

I shall begin by recurring to a point which I made early in the course last Quarter regarding the relation of the individual to society.1 I pointed out that the antithesis ordinarily made between the individual and society is misleading in a certain way, and that consequently the antithesis or even the separation of Psychological Ethics, ...

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Section II. The Significance of Vocations

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pp. 278-291

There is another way of stating the problem, in one way entirely different. And yet I think the problem is exactly the same. The statement in this form may give a certain perspective or stereoscopic view1 to what has been said. ...

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Section III. The Relation of the Individual to Society

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pp. 292-310

[1] We have the well-known individualistic view (in the philosophical, not the practical sense of the term) by which the individuals per se are units or integers, and the society is regarded as a secondary product of the combinations made between and among these various individuals: ...

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Section IV. The Relation of the Individual to Society: Its Ethical Significance

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pp. 311-327

The organic concept, in the dynamic sense as distinct from the static, can never be treated as simply accomplished, given fact. It is rather a process which is continually going on and continually to be maintained and restated, and the problem, therefore, is that just because it is dynamic and not static it is in danger of becoming inorganic and mechanical. ...

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Section V. Getting a Fresh Start

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pp. 328-353

All philosophy must arise out of some problem. The most fundamental statement of a philosophical problem in any of its forms is what, if we state it in terms of Logic, is the relation of the particular to the universal. If we identify, as we may, logic in its most general forms with the theory of philosophy in its most general forms, ...

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Section VI. Working Out the Dynamic Organic Standpoint

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pp. 354-371

The individual has a twofold social aspect or outlook: First, that which arises in virtue of his membership in some special social group or formation; and, second, that which arises through the need of change because of the interaction of that group with other social groups. ...

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Section VII. Activities and Institutions in the Life Process

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pp. 372-386

In discussing the organic character of society the point was made that instead of looking at plants and animals, and then at society, and finding that they have organs and structures which emphasize these functions, that we derive that from the very nature of the life process itself. ...

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Section VIII. The Economic Function: Part I

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pp. 387-402

The economic activities mark the direct relation between the organism and environment: the expenditure of effort on the environment on the one side by the organism, and, on the other side, the returns, the increment. The immediate addition comes about through the changes wrought in the environment: ...

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Section IX. The Economic Function: Part II

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pp. 403-419

The scientific method has taken possession of the physical region much more than of the social or personal region and the immediate result is in many respects confusing. That point may be illustrated further in this way. This increase of the environment with reference to which industrial processes are carried on is due very directly to the advances in applied science. ...

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Section X. Art Activities

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pp. 420-434

The assumption that was involved in putting the art activities in the third class1 was that they represent completely mediated experience, an experience so completely mediated that the processes of effort, tension, reconstruction, have disappeared and left simply the fruit of their labors behind them. ...

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Section XI. Conclusion: Some Final Issues

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pp. 435-448

There are three distinct problems or lines of thought which it seems to me necessary to discriminate with reference to that idea of social consciousness, meaning, in the first place, the dependence of the individual consciousness upon social processes and social activities. ...


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pp. 449-456

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Author Bio, Back Cover

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pp. 534-535

Donald F. Koch is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Michigan State University. With Bill E. Lawson, he coedited Pragmatism and the Problem of Race (2004).

E-ISBN-13: 9780809387113
E-ISBN-10: 0809387115
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809328468
Print-ISBN-10: 0809328461

Page Count: 533
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1st Edition