“Lessons from America’s Public Philosopher”

Cover of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy.This piece is the culmination of years of researching and thinking about public philosophy. If you know me, you know that “America’s Public Philosopher” was John Dewey. Elements of this piece will show up in my introduction for a collection of Dewey’s public writings that I am finishing up.


This article argues for a definition of public philosophy inspired by John Dewey’s understanding of the “supreme intellectual obligation.” The first section examines five strong reasons why more public philosophy is needed and why the growing movement in public philosophy should be encouraged. The second section begins with a review of common understandings of public philosophy as well as some initial challenges that call for widening our conception of the practice. Then, it applies Dewey’s argument in “The Supreme Intellectual Obligation” to public philosophy, which must not be seen simply as a one-way street from intellectuals to the masses but, rather, as the task of fostering the scientific attitude and intellectual habits of mind in all citizens.

Read the paper on Academia.edu


Weber, Eric Thomas. “Lessons from America’s Public Philosopher.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, no. 1 (2015): 118-135.