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Indeed, it may be said that the practice of direct effect erodes the separation between the international and the domestic spheres — not unlike the effect of VGL in the EU. Although the concept of direct effect primarily has the connotation of a sword, the principle of direct effect more often than not functions as a shield. It can justify the non-application of international law by the courts, and thereby protect domestic political organs and, more generally, domestic values, from review based on international law.

The key to understanding this function as a shield is that direct effect is not only a term that describes a process leading to actual effect , but is also a concept with its own normative content, which contains a threshold requirement before international law can be applied. The concept of direct effect comprises criteria that have to be fulfilled before a court can give effect to international law. Generally, what counts are, first, the question of whether a provision is clear enough and, secondly, whether or not it grants a right to private parties.

If a court finds that they are not fulfilled, international law remains unenforceable by the courts. Surely, direct effect is not the only shield that can be set up between national and international legal orders.


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It is part of a wider set of doctrines and prin ciples, including the requirement in dualist states that international law should be implemented through legislation before it can have effect, the principle that accords supremacy to parts of national law, and principles that defer decisions on international law to the political branches, like the principle of non-justiciability. Within this wider set, the concept of direct effect fulfils a distinct role in shielding national legal orders. This function of direct effect to provide a shield is not unique for international law.

In regard to direct effect in EU law, it has been said that the restrictions set by direct effect would be and perhaps should be only temporary. Pescatore noted that once the democratic ideal of Europe had taken root, reference to direct effect would become redundant — the effective application of EC law would be a matter of the ordinary state of the law.

While this shield function may have been pushed to the background by the pervasive and largely non-controversial uses of direct effect in EU law, it remains dominant in international law. Like the use of direct effect as a shield, the construction and use of the conditions of direct effect as a high threshold for the application of international law can serve critical domestic agendas.

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For instance, although Article VI of the US Constitution says that treaties are the supreme law of the land, the self-executing treaties doctrine imposes restrictions on judicial enforcement and protects the powers of political branches. In combination with the principle of supremacy of national constitutional law, a demanding construction of the conditions of direct effect also preserves the ultimate priority of national constitutional law, so as to allow for domestically induced contestation and change, even when that would override international law that does not conform to domestic policy preferences.

Domestic courts are the controlling agents, and the concept of direct effect is one of their tools. The functions of direct effect as a shield are fuelled by the well-documented shortcomings of international law-making. Even where consent may formally be available as a legitimizing force, its role is reduced by the fact that it appears late in the process, and for many states, non-participation in international regimes is not an option.

In conjunction with other shielding principles, the direct effect doctrine can then mediate the effects of international obligations that are wanting in terms of democracy and rule of law quality, and that may upset these values domestically. While direct effect is embedded in domestic law that serves domestic purposes, international law to some extent explains and justifies both the sword and the shield functions of direct effect. In this respect, international law is itself characterized by a normative duality that sustains and justifies the functional duality of direct effect.

International law pulls in different directions, which in a paradoxical way sustain each other. International law may colour and influence direct effect A , but at the same time fuel its opposition B. The normative foundations discussed here are limited to what can be derived from international law; obviously they supplant the normative grounds for the sword and shield functions that may be derived from domestic law, briefly identified above. Combined, the competing ambitions and claims of direct effect seem largely irreconcilable, and reflect the pluralistic relationship between international and national law.

Compared to EU law, the support that international law provides for direct effect is exceedingly weak. There is no authoritative judgment of an international court that direct effect is required, and also no grounds can be found otherwise for arguing that courts should give effect to an international right where that right has not been made effective in national law.

Yet courts in principle are competent to give direct effect to particular international rights or obligations, and can find in international law some support for doing so. We can distinguish between a general normative basis for direct effect and specific grounds that can be used to support a finding of direct effect,. The general ground is that direct effect furthers the effective application of international obligations. Even when direct effect is not obligatory as a matter of international law, it supports an internationalist ambition to render international law effective at the national level.

The more specific ground is that international law can support and influence the interpretation and application of the criteria of direct effect. While state practice is too diverse, and also too limited, to identify a single authoritative concept of direct effect as it exists in EU law, there is a remarkable convergence in the conditions and criteria that are applied in those states where direct effect is known.

Generally, what count are, first, the question of whether a provision is clear enough and, secondly, whether or not it grants a right to private parties. Answering both questions cannot neglect international law. In those cases where international courts and other international institutions are empowered to interpret international obligations, such institutions may further exert the influence of international law on direct effect. One reason is that where direct effect depends on the interpretation of an international norm notably in relation to its specificity and its addressees , a prior decision by an international court may be influential.

Another is that international courts may expressly direct themselves to national courts and charge them with the task of giving effect to international rights where national law falls short. Sofovich that Article 14 1 of the IACHR provides a directly enforceable right of reply to an individual who was injured by inaccurate or offensive statements disseminated to the public, and that the courts had the power to give direct effect to that right. While it may seem counter-intuitive to argue that international law itself provides grounds for resisting the direct effect of international law, we can derive from the system of international law two sets of reasons to be reluctant to engage in broad practices of direct effect.

In this respect, a construction of the conditions of direct effect that impede the domestic judicial application of international law need not be regarded as nationalistic reflexes that seek to undermine the performance of international obligations. Rather, it may be seen as a legitimate response to the shortcomings of international law, which fulfils a critical role in maintaining international law as a system that allows states to coordinate their policies and secure common objectives.

Also, here we can distinguish between a narrow and a broader ground. The narrow ground is that international law fuels the resistance by protecting values that it itself may undermine. International law and international institutions protect in a variety of ways fundamental rights, democracy, and the rule of law at the national level.

In admittedly rare cases, courts can justify the non-application of particular international rights or obligations on the basis of international law itself. This will hold mainly for human rights law. The broader ground is that, in light of the noted deficiencies of international law, a wide application of direct effect of international law at the national level that would allow courts to set aside conflicting national policies, or even laws, would attribute to the international legal system more than what it can bear in terms of its substantive and procedural qualities and in terms of its overall legitimacy.

It is one thing to say that international law, with all its deficiencies, coordinates relations between states. It is quite something else to say that it dictates the law applying in a particular state. National practices that limit the direct effect of international law then should not necessarily be seen as a threat to the effectiveness of international law and the stability of treaty performance, but as a strategy that provides checks and balances that are lacking at the international level, and which supports the system of international law and its overall legitimacy.

This is particularly so when the grounds for rejection of direct effect rise beyond the particular national context and are framed in terms to which other states and, indeed, the international system, can be receptive. Construing direct effect in a demanding way, which allows the concept to function as a shield rather than as a sword, should not only then be seen as fuelling conflicts between competing claims, but also in terms of accommodation and adjustment between legal orders that depend on each other.

Even though international law may thus be relevant for decisions on direct effect, either in construing direct effect as a sword or direct effect as a shield, its actual impact on shaping the practice of direct effect is quite marginal. In part this results from the fact that these considerations that support, respectively, international law as a sword or as a shield neutralize each other.

But above all, international law plays a marginal role because it has to defer to and is contingent upon national law. That, surely, would be too simplistic a construction. Instead it is international law itself that sustains and fuels this contingency. International law sustains the contingency by respecting and protecting the autonomy of national legal orders, and the freedom of each state to determine how it arranges its relationship with international law.

While an internationalist agenda may foster the argument that the traditional freedom of states may no longer be appropriate, seen from a global perspective the diversity and resistance are too significant to support any change in this freedom. If the International Court of Justice ICJ were to have stated in Avena what the ECJ said in VGL that is, if it had said that a particular group of states, which differ in the degree to which international law has been made part of national law, had as a matter of international law to give effect to rights that were not part of national law , that statement would have been without basis in international law, and would have lacked any chance of being accepted by states.

The Avena Judgment nowhere lays down or implies that the courts in the United States are required to give direct effect to paragraph 9. The obligation laid down in that paragraph is indeed an obligation of result which clearly must be performed unconditionally; non-performance of it constitutes internationally wrongful conduct. However, the Judgment leaves it to the United States to choose the means of implementation, not excluding the introduction within a reasonable time of appropriate legislation, if deemed necessary under domestic constitutional law.

The neutrality of customary international law on this point is simply a reflection of the continuing significant differences in the practice of states as regards the way in which they give effect to their international obligations. Although in theory, states could conclude a treaty that requires the contracting parties to ensure that all or some of its provisions have the status of directly applicable law and be enforced by their domestic courts, the point is that states have preferred not to do so, and have not set up international courts that have articulated that requirement in the absence of an expression of will of states.

This is true even for regional integration organizations outside Europe. The closest resemblance can be found in the Andean Community of States. In its first preliminary ruling, the Andean Tribunal declared Andean law to have supremacy over national law, assuming that it had direct effect. It is difficult to identify traces of a direct effect doctrine that looks like the international variant of VGL. The deference to national law explains and, at least from an international law perspective, justifies the wide diversity in the practice of direct effect.

The heterogeneity of constructions and applications of direct effect demonstrates that the doctrine of direct effect fulfils multiple functions that are marginally influenced by international law. Otherwise, it is a concept that reflects a particular unique national legal and political context. This also means that direct effect is not a politics-free zone where the normal political contestation between legal orders is neutralized and put in the hands of courts.

Direct effect instead embodies competing political ideals and becomes an instrument whereby choices are made and legitimized. The interplay between the role of direct effect as a sword or as a shield and the deference to national law for resolving the apparently competing pulls provide the political context for the international legal order and its application in the national legal order. It is a trite observation that the development, interpretation, application, and change of international law depend on politics.

That, surely, also affects the application of international law at the domestic level. Political processes are not limited to negotiations of treaties or the framework of international institutions. The practices of direct effect of international obligations at the national level provide a necessary political context for the international legal order that otherwise lacks organized political structures — they provide for checks and balances, and change. From the perspective of direct effect, two critical features of this political process should be highlighted. First, the political process does not, as is commonly assumed, play a role in those cases where direct effect cannot be given; it instead plays out in the construction and application of the doctrine of direct effect.

Secondly, the entry of direct effect in any particular legal order shifts this political role from the political branches in particular, the constitutional legislature to the courts. Case law demonstrates that the seemingly objective criteria of concreteness and private rights are in fact fundamentally open to multiple interpretations. This transforms direct effect from the seemingly technical principle it is in VGL , which is properly placed in the hands of courts, to a fundamentally political principle that makes courts powerful actors at the intersection of legal orders.

It is that feature that allows us to understand, and to assess, the wide diversity in the practice of direct effect outside the EU. Nor is the concept of direct effect — standing for the principle that under certain conditions a rule of international law can be applied where national law falls short — unique. It existed before VGL and continues to exist outside it, both within and outside Europe. The concept responds to a need that is bound to arise once domestic legal orders open up to international law, but for good reasons quail in the light of the enormity of the potential consequences.

Compared to the relatively uniform application of VGL in the EU, the practice of direct effect of international law is extremely heterogeneous. One way of structuring the cases, and making sense of the heterogeneity, is to distinguish between those cases where direct effect functions as a sword and those where it puts in place a shield between the international and national legal orders.

In a somewhat paradoxical way, international law provides some support for either of these functions. But as these normative grounds cancel each other out, and international law otherwise defers to the national level, at the end of the day direct effect is a tool that is determined by domestic political choices. The article has highlighted that the political process at the interface of international and national legal orders does not, as is commonly assumed, play a role in those cases where direct effect cannot be given.

In contrast, it plays out in the construction and application of the doctrine of direct effect. The diversity in the practice of direct effect reflects the diverse choices made in this political process — and because of this very diversity, international law has not been able to impose normative guidance. However, the political dimensions of the concept are not entirely alien to EU law. They constitute an image that reminds us where VGL came from — and from which it can never be entirely insulated.

As in international law, so too in EU law domestic courts can play a critical political role if the domestic support for international prescriptions wanes. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account.

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Volume Article Contents. Email: p. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Series B No. See also the discussion in E. Kristjansdottir, A. Nollkaemper, and C. Krisch, Beyond Constitutionalism Muller, S. Zouridis, M. Frishman, and L. Office of the Public Prosecutor , Appeal judgment, S. Ct Argentina. Constitution of the Dominican Republic, , Art. See, e. Ct Dominican Republic. Mendoza and Sanabria , Appeal judgment, No. Martin Rivas v. Dhakal v. Public Prosecution of Egypt v.


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  • Ismail and ors, Decision on merit, No. Kamunzyu v. I limit the review of practice to states outside Europe. It may be that similar considerations as discussed in this article apply to the application of international law in European states and even to EU Member States. American Embassy , ILDC BW noting that no statute dealt with the sovereign immunity of states in Botswana; the rules of customary international law became part of the law of the land unless they were in conflict with statutes or common law, and proceeding to apply international principles of immunity without considering questions of direct effect.

    Nijman and A. Asare and Three other individuals v. South Africa v. Rahman v. Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v. Fontanelli, G. Martinico, and P. Carrozza, Shaping Rule of Law through Dialogue. International and Supranational Experiences , at See also H.

    Some courts even have treated the question of supremacy as a condition of direct effect. The Sup. Kelsen, Law and Peace in International Relations. The Oliver Wendell Holmes Lectures, —41 , at Australia, High Ct, Dietrich v. Good v. Sabally v. Ct Gambia. India, Sup. Ct, Daya Singh Lahoria v. Israel, Sup. Ct sitting as a Court of Appeals, Anonymous Lebanese citizens v.

    Kenya, High Ct, Okunda v. While at the University of Vermont, Dewey was exposed to evolutionary theory through the teaching of G. Perkins and Lessons in Elementary Physiology, a text by T. Huxley, the famous English evolutionist. The theory of natural selection continued to have a life-long impact upon Dewey's thought, suggesting the barrenness of static models of nature, and the importance of focusing on the interaction between the human organism and its environment when considering questions of psychology and the theory of knowledge.

    The formal teaching in philosophy at the University of Vermont was confined for the most part to the school of Scottish realism, a school of thought that Dewey soon rejected, but his close contact both before and after graduation with his teacher of philosophy, H. Torrey, a learned scholar with broader philosophical interests and sympathies, was later accounted by Dewey himself as "decisive" to his philosophical development.

    After graduation in , Dewey taught high school for two years, during which the idea of pursuing a career in philosophy took hold. With this nascent ambition in mind, he sent a philosophical essay to W. Harris, then editor of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, and the most prominent of the St. Louis Hegelians. Harris's acceptance of the essay gave Dewey the confirmation he needed of his promise as a philosopher. With this encouragement he traveled to Baltimore to enroll as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University.

    At Johns Hopkins Dewey came under the tutelage of two powerful and engaging intellects who were to have a lasting influence on him. George Sylvester Morris, a German-trained Hegelian philosopher, exposed Dewey to the organic model of nature characteristic of German idealism. Stanley Hall, one of the most prominent American experimental psychologists at the time, provided Dewey with an appreciation of the power of scientific methodology as applied to the human sciences.

    The confluence of these viewpoints propelled Dewey's early thought, and established the general tenor of his ideas throughout his philosophical career. Upon obtaining his doctorate in , Dewey accepted a teaching post at the University of Michigan, a post he was to hold for ten years, with the exception of a year at the University of Minnesota in Both works expressed Dewey's early commitment to Hegelian idealism, while the Psychology explored the synthesis between this idealism and experimental science that Dewey was then attempting to effect.

    At Michigan Dewey also met one of his important philosophical collaborators, James Hayden Tufts, with whom he would later author Ethics ; revised ed. In , Dewey followed Tufts to the recently founded University of Chicago. It was during his years at Chicago that Dewey's early idealism gave way to an empirically based theory of knowledge that was in concert with the then developing American school of thought known as pragmatism.

    This change in view finally coalesced into a series of four essays entitled collectively "Thought and its Subject-Matter," which was published along with a number of other essays by Dewey's colleagues and students at Chicago under the title Studies in Logical Theory Dewey also founded and directed a laboratory school at Chicago, where he was afforded an opportunity to apply directly his developing ideas on pedagogical method. This experience provided the material for his first major work on education, The School and Society Disagreements with the administration over the status of the Laboratory School led to Dewey's resignation from his post at Chicago in His philosophical reputation now secured, he was quickly invited to join the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University.

    Dewey spent the rest of his professional life at Columbia. Now in New York, located in the midst of the Northeastern universities that housed many of the brightest minds of American philosophy, Dewey developed close contacts with many philosophers working from divergent points of view, an intellectually stimulating atmosphere which served to nurture and enrich his thought. During his first decade at Columbia Dewey wrote a great number of articles in the theory of knowledge and metaphysics, many of which were published in two important books: The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays in Contemporary Thought and Essays in Experimental Logic His interest in educational theory also continued during these years, fostered by his work at Teachers College at Columbia.

    This led to the publication of How We Think ; revised ed. During his years at Columbia Dewey's reputation grew not only as a leading philosopher and educational theorist, but also in the public mind as an important commentator on contemporary issues, the latter due to his frequent contributions to popular magazines such as The New Republic and Nation, as well as his ongoing political involvement in a variety of causes, such as women's suffrage and the unionization of teachers.

    One outcome of this fame was numerous invitations to lecture in both academic and popular venues. Many of his most significant writings during these years were the result of such lectures, including Reconstruction in Philosophy , Human Nature and Conduct , Experience and Nature , The Public and its Problems , and The Quest for Certainty Dewey's retirement from active teaching in did not curtail his activity either as a public figure or productive philosopher.

    Of special note in his public life was his participation in the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Against Leon Trotsky at the Moscow Trial, which exposed Stalin's political machinations behind the Moscow trials of the mids, and his defense of fellow philosopher Bertrand Russell against an attempt by conservatives to remove him from his chair at the College of the City of New York in A primary focus of Dewey's philosophical pursuits during the s was the preparation of a final formulation of his logical theory, published as Logic: The Theory of Inquiry in Dewey's other significant works during his retirement years include Art as Experience , A Common Faith , Freedom and Culture , Theory of Valuation , and Knowing and the Known , the last coauthored with Arthur F.

    Dewey continued to work vigorously throughout his retirement until his death on June 2, , at the age of ninety-two. The central focus of Dewey's philosophical interests throughout his career was what has been traditionally called "epistemology," or the "theory of knowledge. In Dewey's view, traditional epistemologies, whether rationalist or empiricist, had drawn too stark a distinction between thought, the domain of knowledge, and the world of fact to which thought purportedly referred: thought was believed to exist apart from the world, epistemically as the object of immediate awareness, ontologically as the unique aspect of the self.

    The commitment of modern rationalism, stemming from Descartes, to a doctrine of innate ideas, ideas constituted from birth in the very nature of the mind itself, had effected this dichotomy; but the modern empiricists, beginning with Locke, had done the same just as markedly by their commitment to an introspective methodology and a representational theory of ideas.

    The resulting view makes a mystery of the relevance of thought to the world: if thought constitutes a domain that stands apart from the world, how can its accuracy as an account of the world ever be established? For Dewey a new model, rejecting traditional presumptions, was wanting, a model that Dewey endeavored to develop and refine throughout his years of writing and reflection. In his early writings on these issues, such as "Is Logic a Dualistic Science?

    But during the succeeding decade Dewey gradually came to reject this solution as confused and inadequate. A number of influences have bearing on Dewey's change of view. For one, Hegelian idealism was not conducive to accommodating the methodologies and results of experimental science which he accepted and admired. Dewey himself had attempted to effect such an accommodation between experimental psychology and idealism in his early Psychology , but the publication of William James' Principles of Psychology , written from a more thoroughgoing naturalistic stance, suggested the superfluity of idealist principles in the treatment of the subject.

    Second, Darwin's theory of natural selection suggested in a more particular way the form which a naturalistic approach to the theory of knowledge should take. Darwin's theory had renounced supernatural explanations of the origins of species by accounting for the morphology of living organisms as a product of a natural, temporal process of the adaptation of lineages of organisms to their environments, environments which, Darwin understood, were significantly determined by the organisms that occupied them.

    The key to the naturalistic account of species was a consideration of the complex interrelationships between organisms and environments. In a similar way, Dewey came to believe that a productive, naturalistic approach to the theory of knowledge must begin with a consideration of the development of knowledge as an adaptive human response to environing conditions aimed at an active restructuring of these conditions.

    Unlike traditional approaches in the theory of knowledge, which saw thought as a subjective primitive out of which knowledge was composed, Dewey's approach understood thought genetically, as the product of the interaction between organism and environment, and knowledge as having practical instrumentality in the guidance and control of that interaction. Thus Dewey adopted the term "instrumentalism" as a descriptive appellation for his new approach. Dewey's first significant application of this new naturalistic understanding was offered in his seminal article "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" In this article, Dewey argued that the dominant conception of the reflex arc in the psychology of his day, which was thought to begin with the passive stimulation of the organism, causing a conscious act of awareness eventuating in a response, was a carry-over of the old, and errant, mind-body dualism.

    Dewey argued for an alternative view: the organism interacts with the world through self-guided activity that coordinates and integrates sensory and motor responses. The implication for the theory of knowledge was clear: the world is not passively perceived and thereby known; active manipulation of the environment is involved integrally in the process of learning from the start.

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    Dewey first applied this interactive naturalism in an explicit manner to the theory of knowledge in his four introductory essays in Studies in Logical Theory. Dewey identified the view expressed in Studies with the school of pragmatism, crediting William James as its progenitor. James, for his part, in an article appearing in the Psychological Bulletin , proclaimed the work as the expression of a new school of thought, acknowledging its originality.

    A detailed genetic analysis of the process of inquiry was Dewey's signal contribution to Studies. Dewey distinguished three phases of the process. It begins with the problematic situation , a situation where instinctive or habitual responses of the human organism to the environment are inadequate for the continuation of ongoing activity in pursuit of the fulfillment of needs and desires. Dewey stressed in Studies and subsequent writings that the uncertainty of the problematic situation is not inherently cognitive, but practical and existential.

    Cognitive elements enter into the process as a response to precognitive maladjustment. The second phase of the process involves the isolation of the data or subject matter which defines the parameters within which the reconstruction of the initiating situation must be addressed. In the third, reflective phase of the process, the cognitive elements of inquiry ideas, suppositions, theories, etc.

    The final test of the adequacy of these solutions comes with their employment in action. If a reconstruction of the antecedent situation conducive to fluid activity is achieved, then the solution no longer retains the character of the hypothetical that marks cognitive thought; rather, it becomes a part of the existential circumstances of human life. The error of modern epistemologists, as Dewey saw it, was that they isolated the reflective stages of this process, and hypostatized the elements of those stages sensations, ideas, etc.

    For Dewey, the hypostatization was as groundless as the search for incorrigibility was barren. Rejecting foundationalism, Dewey accepted the fallibilism that was characteristic of the school of pragmatism: the view that any proposition accepted as an item of knowledge has this status only provisionally, contingent upon its adequacy in providing a coherent understanding of the world as the basis for human action.

    Dewey defended this general outline of the process of inquiry throughout his long career, insisting that it was the only proper way to understand the means by which we attain knowledge, whether it be the commonsense knowledge that guides the ordinary affairs of our lives, or the sophisticated knowledge arising from scientific inquiry.

    The latter is only distinguished from the former by the precision of its methods for controlling data, and the refinement of its hypotheses. In his writings in the theory of inquiry subsequent to Studies, Dewey endeavored to develop and deepen instrumentalism by considering a number of central issues of traditional epistemology from its perspective, and responding to some of the more trenchant criticisms of the view. One traditional question that Dewey addressed in a series of essays between and was that of the meaning of truth. Dewey at that time considered the pragmatic theory of truth as central to the pragmatic school of thought, and vigorously defended its viability.

    Both Dewey and William James, in his book Pragmatism , argued that the traditional correspondence theory of truth, according to which the true idea is one that agrees or corresponds to reality, only begs the question of what the "agreement" or "correspondence" of idea with reality is. Dewey and James maintained that an idea agrees with reality, and is therefore true, if and only if it is successfully employed in human action in pursuit of human goals and interests, that is, if it leads to the resolution of a problematic situation in Dewey's terms.

    The pragmatic theory of truth met with strong opposition among its critics, perhaps most notably from the British logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Dewey later began to suspect that the issues surrounding the conditions of truth, as well as knowledge, were hopelessly obscured by the accretion of traditional, and in his view misguided, meanings to the terms, resulting in confusing ambiguity. He later abandoned these terms in favor of "warranted assertiblity" to describe the distinctive property of ideas that results from successful inquiry.


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    • One of the most important developments of his later writings in the theory of knowledge was the application of the principles of instrumentalism to the traditional conceptions and formal apparatus of logical theory. Dewey made significant headway in this endeavor in his lengthy introduction to Essays in Experimental Logic , but the project reached full fruition in Logic: The Theory of Inquiry.

      The basis of Dewey's discussion in the Logic is the continuity of intelligent inquiry with the adaptive responses of pre-human organisms to their environments in circumstances that check efficient activity in the fulfillment of organic needs. What is distinctive about intelligent inquiry is that it is facilitated by the use of language, which allows, by its symbolic meanings and implication relationships, the hypothetical rehearsal of adaptive behaviors before their employment under actual, prevailing conditions for the purpose of resolving problematic situations.

      Logical form, the specialized subject matter of traditional logic, owes its genesis not to rational intuition, as had often been assumed by logicians, but due to its functional value in 1 managing factual evidence pertaining to the problematic situation that elicits inquiry, and 2 controlling the procedures involved in the conceptualized entertainment of hypothetical solutions. As Dewey puts it, "logical forms accrue to subject-matter when the latter is subjected to controlled inquiry.

      From this new perspective, Dewey reconsiders many of the topics of traditional logic, such as the distinction between deductive and inductive inference, propositional form, and the nature of logical necessity. One important outcome of this work was a new theory of propositions. Traditional views in logic had held that the logical import of propositions is defined wholly by their syntactical form e.

      In contrast, Dewey maintained that statements of identical propositional form can play significantly different functional roles in the process of inquiry. Thus in keeping with his distinction between the factual and conceptual elements of inquiry, he replaced the accepted distinctions between universal, particular, and singular propositions based on syntactical meaning with a distinction between existential and ideational propositions, a distinction that largely cuts across traditional classifications.

      The same general approach is taken throughout the work: the aim is to offer functional analyses of logical principles and techniques that exhibit their operative utility in the process of inquiry as Dewey understood it. The breadth of topics treated and the depth and continuity of the discussion of these topics mark the Logic as Dewey's decisive statement in logical theory. The recognition of the work's importance within the philosophical community of the time can be gauged by the fact that the Journal of Philosophy , the most prominent American journal in the field, dedicated an entire issue to a discussion of the work, including contributions by such philosophical luminaries as C.

      Although many of his critics did question, and continue to question, the assumptions of his approach, one that is certainly unique in the development of twentieth century logical theory, there is no doubt that the work was and continues to be an important contribution to the field. Dewey's naturalistic metaphysics first took shape in articles that he wrote during the decade after the publication of Studies in Logical Theory, a period when he was attempting to elucidate the implications of instrumentalism. Dewey disagreed with William James's assessment that pragmatic principles were metaphysically neutral.

      Dewey's view was based in part on an assessment of the motivations behind traditional metaphysics: a central aim of the metaphysical tradition had been the discovery of an immutable cognitive object that could serve as a foundation for knowledge. The pragmatic theory, by showing that knowledge is a product of an activity directed to the fulfillment of human purposes, and that a true or warranted belief is known to be such by the consequences of its employment rather than by any psychological or ontological foundations, rendered this longstanding aim of metaphysics, in Dewey's view, moot, and opened the door to renewed metaphysical discussion grounded firmly on an empirical basis.

      Dewey begins to define the general form that an empirical metaphysics should take in a number of articles, including "The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism" and "Does Reality Possess Practical Character? In the former article, Dewey asserts that things experienced empirically "are what they are experienced as. Subsequent inquiry e. But the subsequent inquiry, Dewey argues, does not change the initial status of the noise: it was experienced as fearsome, and in fact was fearsome. The point stems from the naturalistic roots of Dewey's logic.

      Our experience of the world is constituted by our interrelationship with it, a relationship that is imbued with practical import. The initial fearsomeness of the noise is the experiential correlate of the uncertain, problematic character of the situation, an uncertainty that is not merely subjective or mental, but a product of the potential inadequacy of previously established modes of behavior to deal effectively with the pragmatic demands of present circumstances.

      The subsequent inquiry does not, therefore, uncover a reality the innocuousness of the noise underlying a mere appearance its fearsomeness , but by settling the demands of the situation, it effects a change in the inter-dynamics of the organism-environment relationship of the initial situation--a change in reality. There are two important implications of this line of thought that distinguish it from the metaphysical tradition.

      First, although inquiry is aimed at resolving the precarious and confusing aspects of experience to provide a stable basis for action, this does not imply the unreality of the unstable and contingent, nor justify its relegation to the status of mere appearance. Thus, for example, the usefulness and reliability of utilizing certain stable features of things encountered in our experience as a basis for classification does not justify according ultimate reality to essences or Platonic forms any more than, as rationalist metaphysicians in the modern era have thought, the similar usefulness of mathematical reasoning in understanding natural processes justifies the conclusion that the world can be exhaustively defined mathematically.

      Second, the fact that the meanings we attribute to natural events might change in any particular in the future as renewed inquiries lead to more adequate understandings of natural events as was implied by Dewey's fallibilism does not entail that our experience of the world at any given time may as a whole be errant. Thus the implicit skepticism that underlies the representational theory of ideas and raises questions concerning the veracity of perceptual experience as such is unwarranted. Dewey stresses the point that sensations, hypotheses, ideas, etc.

      Once inquiry is successful in resolving a problematic situation, mediatory sensations and ideas, as Dewey says, "drop out; and things are present to the agent in the most naively realistic fashion. These contentions positioned Dewey's metaphysics within the territory of a naive realism, and in a number of his articles, such as "The Realism of Pragmatism" , "Brief Studies in Realism" , and "The Existence of the World as a Logical Problem" , it is this view that Dewey expressly avows a view that he carefully distinguishes from what he calls "presentational realism," which he attributes to a number of the other realists of his day.

      1 Introduction

      Opposing narrow-minded positions that would accord full ontological status only to certain, typically the most stable or reliable, aspects of experience, Dewey argues for a position that recognizes the real significance of the multifarious richness of human experience. Dewey offered a fuller statement of his metaphysics in , with the publication of one of his most significant philosophical works, Experience and Nature.

      In the introductory chapter, Dewey stresses a familiar theme from his earlier writings: that previous metaphysicians, guided by unavowed biases for those aspects of experience that are relatively stable and secure, have illicitly reified these biases into narrow ontological presumptions, such as the temporal identity of substance, or the ultimate reality of forms or essences. Dewey finds this procedure so pervasive in the history of thought that he calls it simply the philosophic fallacy, and signals his intention to eschew the disastrous consequences of this approach by offering a descriptive account of all of the various generic features of human experience, whatever their character.

      Dewey begins with the observation that the world as we experience it both individually and collectively is an admixture of the precarious, the transitory and contingent aspect of things, and the stable, the patterned regularity of natural processes that allows for prediction and human intervention. Honest metaphysical description must take into account both of these elements of experience.

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      Dewey endeavors to do this by an event ontology. The world, rather than being comprised of things or, in more traditional terms, substances, is comprised of happenings or occurrences that admit of both episodic uniqueness and general, structured order. Intrinsically events have an ineffable qualitative character by which they are immediately enjoyed or suffered, thus providing the basis for experienced value and aesthetic appreciation.

      Extrinsically events are connected to one another by patterns of change and development; any given event arises out of determinant prior conditions and leads to probable consequences. The patterns of these temporal processes is the proper subject matter of human knowledge--we know the world in terms of causal laws and mathematical relationships--but the instrumental value of understanding and controlling them should not blind us to the immediate, qualitative aspect of events; indeed, the value of scientific understanding is most significantly realized in the facility it affords for controlling the circumstances under which immediate enjoyments may be realized.

      It is in terms of the distinction between qualitative immediacy and the structured order of events that Dewey understands the general pattern of human life and action. This understanding is captured by James' suggestive metaphor that human experience consists of an alternation of flights and perchings, an alternation of concentrated effort directed toward the achievement of foreseen aims, what Dewey calls "ends-in-view," with the fruition of effort in the immediate satisfaction of "consummatory experience.

      Dewey also addresses the social aspect of human experience facilitated by symbolic activity, particularly that of language. For Dewey the question of the nature of social relationships is a significant matter not only for social theory, but metaphysics as well, for it is from collective human activity, and specifically the development of shared meanings that govern this activity, that the mind arises.

      Thus rather than understanding the mind as a primitive and individual human endowment, and a precondition of conscious and intentional action, as was typical in the philosophical tradition since Descartes, Dewey offers a genetic analysis of mind as an emerging aspect of cooperative activity mediated by linguistic communication.

      Consciousness, in turn, is not to be understood as a domain of private awareness, but rather as the fulcrum point of the organism's readjustment to the challenge of novel conditions where the meanings and attitudes that formulate habitual behavioral responses to the environment fail to be adequate.

      Thus Dewey offers in the better part of a number of chapters of Experience and Nature a response to the traditional mind-body problem of the metaphysical tradition, a response that understands the mind as an emergent issue of natural processes, more particularly the web of interactive relationships between human beings and the world in which they live.

      Dewey's mature thought in ethics and social theory is not only intimately linked to the theory of knowledge in its founding conceptual framework and naturalistic standpoint, but also complementary to it in its emphasis on the social dimension of inquiry both in its processes and its consequences.

      In fact, it would be reasonable to claim that Dewey's theory of inquiry cannot be fully understood either in the meaning of its central tenets or the significance of its originality without considering how it applies to social aims and values, the central concern of his ethical and social theory. Dewey rejected the atomistic understanding of society of the Hobbesian social contract theory, according to which the social, cooperative aspect of human life was grounded in the logically prior and fully articulated rational interests of individuals.

      Dewey's claim in Experience and Nature that the collection of meanings that constitute the mind have a social origin expresses the basic contention, one that he maintained throughout his career, that the human individual is a social being from the start, and that individual satisfaction and achievement can be realized only within the context of social habits and institutions that promote it.