The Ethics of Democracy by John Dewey: an Analysis

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The Ethics of Democracy was a short article written by John Dewey. He wrote was an extraordinary thinker and provided us today with ideas that are still in action. I decided to write on this article specifically because I am very interested in the founding of the United States and how our founding fathers chose democracy and why. Hopefully Dewey will give more insight into the ethical reasons, based on the era the book was written 1888, behind why he thinks democracy is so important. First off we need to lay down the basis of Dewey's ideas. Pragmatism, the idea that no idea is set in stone and should be revised relative to the next situation.

Dewey constructs his essay with three main arguments against criticism of democracy. The first is the belief that democracy is based on it’s quantitative nature, or the “rule of the many”. The second regards the nature of social contract theory and its application in society. The third is that democracy seemingly creates non-social individuals in the social and political system.

Dewey starts the essay by discussing the need for reevaluation of the “apparent contradiction” in democracy. He states “the more men see of democracy, the less they like it” (p. 182). Dewey addresses this “contradiction” by arguing that society needs to appreciate the theory of democracy rather than its practical use in it’s application in society. I find it interesting that one of the first ideas found on page 183 deals with something that I see happening in today’s democracy. He mentions that Sir Henry Maine’s says the fundamental nature of democracy is one of which only leads to “monstrous and morbid” forms of aristocracy. This is something that I find is happening here in the Untied States and has happened basically since it’s inception. I’m beginning to think that democracy is just a mask that the ruling or upper class put on to make the lower and middle classes feel like they have a say or voice.

First, we have Dewey’s analysis of...
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