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Principles of Instrumental Logic

John Dewey's Lectures in Ethics and Political Ethics, 1895-1896

Donald F. Koch

Publication Year: 2008

John Dewey delivered two sets of related lectures at the University of Chicago in the fall quarter 1895 and the spring quarter 1896. Designed for graduate students, the lectures show the birth of Dewey’s instrumentalist theory of inquiry in its application to ethical and political thinking.

From 1891 through 1903, Dewey attempted to develop a revolutionary experimentalist approach to ethical inquiry, designed to replace the more traditional ways of moral theorizing that relied on the fixed moral knowledge given in advance of the situations in which they were applied. In the lectures on the logic of ethics, he sets forth and defends the view that the "is" in a moral judgment such as "This is good" is a coordinating factor in an inquiry. Although the subject matter of the lectures is highly technical, its significance is paramount. It provides the key to and opens the door for a theory that preserves the difference between strictly scientific inquiry and moral inquiry even while it provides a "scientific treatment" of the latter.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

THE TWO SETS OF LECTURES that follow are taken from the collection of Dewey material at Morris Library, Southern Illinois University. According to the description in the University of Chicago Annual Register, July, 1894-95, with An nouncements for 1895-96, the Logic of Ethics course was given in the 1895 Fall Quarter and the Political Ethics course in the 1896 Spring Quarter. Here are the ...

A Note on Editorial Methods

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pp. xiii-xiv

Abbreviations of Dewey's Published Works

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pp. xv-17

Part One: Lectures on the Logic of Ethics

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pp. 1-19

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Editor's Introduction to the Lectures on the Logic of Ethics

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pp. 3-30

THE PROGRAM for a philosophy of inquiry set forth in these lectures is a remarkable achievement in comprehensiveness, depth, and integration of subject matters often discussed separately and without regard for their place within the process of human experience at large. It provides the basis for a logic of experimental inquiry to be shared by scientific...

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pp. 31-32

1. This Quarter's work is preliminary to Ethics proper. We are to consider the relation of ethical science to other forms of scientific inquiry and inquire into the formulation of ethical concepts. What is the relation of the ethical view of the world to the physical view of the world? The typical quarrels of philosophy circle about that point. Can there be a science of ethics? The logic of ethics is an ...

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Chapter 1. How are Subject and Predicate Connected by the Copula?

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pp. 33-38

...5. The fact that the judgment has a sensation as the subject expresses the fact, the "is" side. The predicate side implies consciousness, idea. The copula is al ways ultimately an act which comprehends the fact and idea. It is the only com plete reality which ever exists. The others are abstractions. The question on the logical side is, "What is the subject? What is the predicate? How can they be con ...

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Chapter 2. The Problem with Empirical and Idealist Theories

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pp. 39-43

...30. There is one theory of the nature of judgment which seeks to solve the difficulty by suppressing the predicate or ideal element, which holds that all you need to do is to exhaustively describe your sphere of existence or fact. Educationally this is found in extreme specialism, which simply collects all the data possible and rejects all hypotheses. Physically, this leads to some form of ...

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Chapter 3. The Significance of Tension and the Coordinating Function of the Copula

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pp. 44-53

...50. There are two ways of going at the problem. One is to simply take it and try to solve it. This never gives satisfactory results in philosophy. The fact that it is a problem shows a contradiction and it can only be solved by supposing some [new?)3 element. The point is to get back of the problem and find the source of it. The problem then disappears. Here as everywhere the question is, how ...

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Chapter 4. Intellectual, Aesthetic, and Moral Value

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pp. 54-59

...88. The next step is to attempt to classify the various types of value which this qualitative realization assumes: the logical or intellectual, the aesthetical, and 89. The previous account is in a way incomplete. While the logical process has to be treated as a process of mediation, the intellectual process, to the person pursuing it, becomes an end in itself. The process of learning appeals to us on its own ...

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Chapter 5. Reconciliation of Scientific and Moral Views of the World

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pp. 60-63

...114. The problem which determines the special problems which writers take up is the possibility of reconciling the scientific view of the world with the moral view. Science seems to eliminate self. The scientific view seems to give us a world from which ends are excluded, from which freedom is excluded. Setting up a moral sphere seems to be an illusion which our own ignorance has made pos ...

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Chapter 6. Criticism of the Separation Between Self and God

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pp. 64-65

...129. Everybody's philosophical thinking is influenced by theological ideas even if he thinks he has gotten away from the latter. There are images, fundamental schema, still in the mind even of the atheist. In various concepts of God there are certain views. The difficulties of metaphysical thought are the reflex13 of these conflicting views. When we begin to philosophize these contradictions ...

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Chapter 7. Interpretation of the Central Moral Categories

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pp. 66-67

...134. [Prior to the occurrence of tension,] every experience begins at a rela tively unconscious phase of worth. The next [phase] is where the emphasis is laid upon the process of marking off value; in this the tension occurs and then the unity is rediscovered, but with the tension still conscious. 135. The chief ethical categories ought now to be defined. What do we mean ...

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Chapter 8. The Empirical Theory Concerning Origin and Nature of the Moral Judgment

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pp. 68-70

...141. This is but an application of the general logical method. The following implications: (1) observation and collection of special cases, (2) comparison of these cases, (3) induction of a general principle by the calculation of conse quences. Certain of our experiences bring pleasure; certain, pain. Empirical logic is always monistic. Having observed a large number of instances, the ex ...

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Chapter 9. Criticism of Intuitionalism

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pp. 71-75

...149. If the intuitional theory were true, all moral experience would reduce it self to applying moral truth to given cases. There would be no responsibility on the individual to discover truth for himself. The intuitional idea is the charitable idea in food and money, also in giving truth-a more important thing. The weakness of intuitionalism is that it does not treat experience as working out ...

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Chapter 10. The Logic of the Formation of Ideals

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pp. 76-83

...171. One of the most obvious phenomena of life is the apparent disjunction of the actual and the ideal. And the testing point of every ethical system is how it accounts for the splitting up of the ethical experience into the "is" and the "might be." In Psychology, the logic of actual and ideal would be applied to impulse and progress; in Politics, the positive laws and natural laws; [while 1 in ...

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Chapter 11. Standards as Perfection in the Practical Sense

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pp. 84-90

...213. Can perfection be taken as a standard for measuring a particular act? We cannot measure the length of finite space by infinite space. Neither [can we measure] a particular act by perfection. Green recognized the break. He said we should ask if this particular act were [to be] measured by the objectification of the infinite ideal, which is brought up to date. But can this objectification be a ...

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Chapter 12. Badness and Negative Judgment

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pp. 91-94

...244. What is the nature of the negative judgment? On the theory above developed we cannot work from the ideal bad back to the act [as] wrong. No person ever followed any end as evil. The process of finding out the end is the process of finding the good. Nobody ever chooses an end as bad. What a man 245. The real difficulty is said to be to get the will to accept what is intellec ...

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Chapter 13. The Nature of the Categories of Responsibility

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pp. 95-97

...266. The categories of responsibility and freedom belong to the third stage of the judgment. They express the quality or value of the completed judgment. They do not express the tension. The two are logically correlative. Any system may be considered from the side of organism or of organs. From the standpoint of the former it is freedom; from that of functioning of organs in the organism, ...


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pp. 98-100

Part Two: Lectures on Political Ethics

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pp. 101-119

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Editor's Introduction to the Lectures on Political Ethics

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pp. 103-122

The subject matter of the "Lectures on Political Ethics" is the separate and an tagonistic spheres of academic and intellectual inquiry commonly designated as Politics, Economics, and Ethics. As we go on to read them over one hundred years after they were delivered, our concern will most likely be as specialists in Dewey's thought. As in the "Lectures on the Logic of Ethics," the issues raised ...

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Chapter 1. General Considerations of the Nature of the Course

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pp. 123-126

...1. Political Philosophy is the theory of consciousness as social. It might be called Social Psychology for the use of other social sciences. The very concept of consciousness as social is so new that many difficulties are raised. That is why 2. We have now three distinct and more or less antagonistic spheres of social phenomena. 1. Politics. 2. Ethics. 3. Economics.! From the point of view of this ...

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Chapter 2. Turning Dualisms into Distinctions

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pp. 127-129

...12. The above criticisms are a good way of showing us the fundamental prob lems of a science of sociology. Sociology is the science of the groups of social in dividuals. Now the question is, what is the relation of social philosophy to na ture? This involves the question [as to] whether there is any relation at all. This 13. Nature and society are supposed to be two different things without or ...

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Chapter 3. Individuality and the Cosmic Process

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pp. 130-133

...21. Situation and functioning represent the whole process. Organism as organism does not represent the whole; neither does environment as environ ment. In any case of re-adaptation or re-adjustment, the old environment as well as the old organism have to adapt themselves to the new environment. Compare this to a plant in a landslide. The functions which the plant has already ...

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Chapter 4. Putting Content into Social Consciousness

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pp. 134-136

...33. If there is a social consciousness, it must be found in the individual and not somewhere outside, as in some present day argument on social conscious ness. The question comes now: What are we to do with the indicative value of the reconstructing individual? That definitely marked phase of individual consciousness where we get self-consciousness as against object-consciousness, ...

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Chapter 5. The Individual as Instrument of Social Development

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pp. 137-138

...44. The bearing of this upon political activity is this: the same thing which makes the conscious distinction between subjective and objective is also the process by which the conscious distinction of the individual to society is made. The individual who has set himself off from society is making himself 45. There will be three periods, all development. 1. Practically conscious (of ...

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Chapter 6. Competition Replaces Conflict in the Development of Wider Associations

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pp. 139-142

...50. The significance of the nervous system is that it enables the various parts to coordinate on the basis of an end, while the organism so far as it has no nerv ous system can unify itself only on the basis of superial physical force. Give an animal a nervous system and it means that these critical stimuli are reduced to being claims and the nervous system is the umpire which decides which claim ...

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Chapter 7. Is Society an Organism?

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pp. 143-144

...60. If we define 'organism' from the idea of calling anything an organism, so ciety must be conceived as organic. We must use this category in order to un derstand the facts. The reason for this will be seen in studying the two main facts in organism. One is the thought of a unity or whole which gives meaning to the activity of all its points, and the other is that these parts are economical cen ...

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Chapter 8. Relation of Individual Organ to Organism as Whole

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pp. 145-147

...65. Consciousness is always referred to an individual organ. The eye sees, the finger feels, etc. This is because consciousness is not located anywhere. The lower the consciousness, the more it is referred to the organism as a whole instead of any special organ. Really it is not the eye that sees, but the organism through it; that is, the organ is the organism specified or differentiated. What does this ...

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Chapter 9. The Social Sciences

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pp. 148-149

...73. The ethical question is the question of the extent and manner in which the various activities are translated over into conscious values. It is a question not of a particular mechanism in which this control goes on, or structure in which a mechanism is centered, but of how far and in what way the activities come to consciousness and in what way they are present as conscious values. ...

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Chapter 10. Structure of Social Organization

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pp. 150-151

...80. [1.] An institution is a social habit. Sovereignty is the habit of these habits, not as another habit but the life habit from which all special habits are differ entiated. A habit is an end executing itself. It is neither mere mechanism nor mere idea, but is the idea or end mechanized. Or it is organic machinery which subserves a function. From these follows: It is impossible to set sovereignty over ...

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Chapter 11. Political Sovereignty

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pp. 152-155

...89. Every attempt to mark off legal sovereignty has failed because it is sim ply a device for analysis. The sense in which legal sovereignty may be said to be supreme force is that as supremacy of organized force it is unlimited. A good many writers write against unlimited power of sovereignty because when it has ceased to do the right thing, there ought to be the right of revolution. ...

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Chapter 12. The Moral and the Legal as Phases in the Reconstruction of the Ethical

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pp. 156-160

...107. We saw that in the consideration of the reconstruction of society, when readjustments are at their height, it differentiates into habits and ideas.45 This gives the basis for the distinction between the de facto and de jure. The ideal which emerges in the conflict constitutes the de jure phase; and that which furnishes the means for realizing the ideal is the de facto phase. The whole process ...

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Chapter 13. Classifications of Rights and Duties

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pp. 161-164

...124. A system of rights and duties is the organization by which members of the social organism reciprocally stimulate and control each other's actions. It is impossible in this to separate the idea and the mechanism side. One individual can't stimulate another directly.53 There must be some medium of interaction. Things and objects are those media. The object represents simply the meet ...

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Chapter 14. Rights in Particular

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pp. 165-172

...136. If we attempt to classify rights in particular, we see that rights are organs through which social will is maintained and expresses itself. In every stage of re construction, this will appear on one side as ideal and on the other as force. [We] This classification is made on the basis of going from the particular side of an act to universal conditions which give it its validity and value. ...

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Chapter 15. Competition and Education as Factors in the Selection and Evolution of Social Callings

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pp. 173-174

...168. Proper education may solve many of the difficulties which appear in socialism. For example, how is an individual going to know what he is best fitted for? There must be some mechanism in society by which the individual can judge his own work. The first, the continuity of social habits, is one of the strongest in the past. Enlarge your environment, and the individual has more to ...

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Chapter 16. Permanent Associations

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pp. 175-192

...173. The next phase of organization is permanent associations. This [gives?] balance to the contract relationship. The strong point about the last was it gave definite statement of time and amount so that present conditions can be made for future. But it can only cover special acts because of its definiteness. 174. Three typical forms are: family, industrial, church. So far as society be ...


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pp. 176-182

Works Cited in Dewey's Lectures

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pp. 183-184


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pp. 185-192

Author Bio, Back Cover

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pp. 210-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780809387212
E-ISBN-10: 0809387212
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809328451
Print-ISBN-10: 0809328453

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 7
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1st Edition