The Public and its Problems


The Public and its Problems is a 1927 book by American philosopher John Dewey. In his first major work on political philosophy, Dewey explores the viability and creation of a genuinely democratic society in the face of the major technological and social changes of the 20th century, and seeks to better define what both the 'public' and the 'state' constitutes, how they are created, and their major weaknesses in understanding and propagating its own interests and the public good. Dewey rejects a then popular notion of political technocracy as an alternative system of governing an increasingly complex society, but rather sees democracy as the most viable and sustainable means to achieving the public interest, albeit a flawed and routinely subverted one. He contends that democracy is an ethos and an ongoing project that requires constant public vigilance and engagement to be effective, rather than merely a set of institutional arrangements, an argument he would later expand upon most influentially in his essay Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us. The Public and its Problems is a major contribution on pragmatism in political philosophy and continued to promote discussion and debate long after its publication.[1]

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