Joshua Forstenzer’s book is a timely and well-researched contribution to the ongoing development of pragmatist political philosophy. Forstenzer’s core thesis is that Dewey’s experimentalism is a useful resource and model for, on the one hand, criticizing the failure of ideal theory to address standing problems in politics, and on the other hand, resisting the moral quietism that too often plagues realist outlooks. As Forstenzer puts it, “we need a methodological approach which charts a via media between ideal theory and realism.”
Forstenzer’s book is insightful and useful on two fronts: first, along the lines of updating and putting a fine point on the case against ideal theory, and second, in making the case for the relevance of Dewey’s experimental method as a set of tools for articulating what active citizenship should be. I am pleased to host this symposium on Deweyan Experimentalism and the Problem of Method in Political Philosophy.