Beyond Realism and Antirealism? The Strange Case of Dewey’s Instrumentalism

  • Giovanni Rubeis
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 19)


The following article aims to shed a light on the role of instrumentalism in John Dewey’s epistemology as well as philosophy of science. Its basic conclusion is that Dewey can be considered an unorthodox realist, following the terminology by Godfrey-Smith , and that his instrumentalist position can be interpreted as a problem-solving approach (Laudan ) to science. The connection to Logical Empiricism lies in Hans Reichenbach ’s analysis of Dewyan instrumentalism.


Everyday Experience Scientific Object Correspondence Theory Classical Dualism Ontological Realism 
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Dewey’s Works

  1. All citations refer to the Southern Illinois University edition of The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882–1953, 37 Vols., under the general editorship of Jo Ann Boydston.Google Scholar
  2. – The Middle Works (MW), 1899–1924Google Scholar
  3. Vol. 6, 1910–1911: Journal articles, Book Reviews and miscellany published in the 1910–1911 period, and How We Think, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by H.S. Thayer and V.A. Thayer, Carbondale 1978.Google Scholar
  4. Vol. 10, 1916–1917: Journal articles, essays and miscellany published in the 1916–1917 period, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by Lewis E Hahn, Carbondale 1980.Google Scholar
  5. – The Later Works (LW), 1925–1953Google Scholar
  6. Vol. 1, 1925: Experience and Nature, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by Sidney Hook, Carbondale 1981.Google Scholar
  7. Vol. 2, 1925–1927: Essays, Reviews and Miscellany, and The Public and its Problems, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by John Guinlock, Carbondale 1984.Google Scholar
  8. Vol. 4, 1929: The Quest for Certainty, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by Stephen Toulmin, Carbondale 1984.Google Scholar
  9. Vol. 10, 1938: Logic – The Theory of Inquiry, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by Ernest Nagel, Carbondale 1986.Google Scholar
  10. Vol. 14, 1939–41: Essays, Reviews and Miscellany, ed. by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by R. W. Sleeper, Carbondale 1988.Google Scholar


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  6. – Dewey 21971 “Experience, Knowledge and Value: A Rejoinder”, in: Schilpp 21971, 517–608 (quoted as Dewey 21971).Google Scholar

Further Sources

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  22. Reichenbach, Hans. 21971. Dewey’s Theory of Science. In Schilpp 21971, 159–192.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of MedicineUlm UniversityUlmGermany

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