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Pragmatism, deliberative democracy and deliberative cultures

John Min, College of Southern Nevada

Tue 19 July 2016

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


This presentation explores the possibility of developing deliberative cultures in East Asian societies. John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy will be considered as a third way between the ‘enlightenment deliberative culture’ and the ‘post-modernist deliberative culture.’ Whereas the former privileges universality and rationality in politics, the latter eschews those values in favor of particularity and sentimentality. A pragmatic conception of deliberative culture, inspired by Dewey’s philosophy, provides a critical, yet fluid model for transforming East Asian democracies from within. Its critical aspects arise out of the use of intelligent inquiry into problematic situations; but it is fluid enough to account for meliorating present conditions. A pragmatic conception of deliberative culture regards fallibilism (acknowledging that we can be mistaken), experimentalism (experimenting with institutions and practices), and contestation (being critical of the way we criticize) as necessary constituents of a robust deliberative culture. The loci of their development and flourishing are in individuals, families, and communities. Habits of mind and character are the conditions of their development and flourishing. Examples from China and Singapore will be considered to illustrate the key concepts and ideas undergirding a pragmatic conception of deliberative cultures. This presentation contributes to an emerging literature in deliberative democracy in thinking through deliberative cultures in East Asian societies.

About the speaker

John B. Min ( is a Philosophy Instructor at the College of Southern Nevada. He specializes in social-political philosophy and democratic theory. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy at, where he wrote his dissertation, “An Epistemological Defense of Deliberative Democracy,” under the direction of Dr. James Bohman. His papers have been published by Contemporary Pragmatism and in a Routledge edited volume, Thinking about the Enlightenment.

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