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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2004

Maughn Gregory
Pages 163-176

Practicing Democracy
Social Intelligence and Philosophical Practice

In pragmatist social theory communities faced with significant troubles or opportunities inquire after their advantage and reconstruct their habits and their environments. Three programs of philosophical practice—Socratic Dialogue, the Philosophy Café and Philosophy for Children—cultivate citizenly virtues necessary for this process. They facilitate dialogue and open-ended inquiry, give practice in cognitive and social skills, and institute shared authority. However, certain factors limit the programs’ effectiveness for citizenship education. They tend to construe social problems and opportunities in strictly discursive terms; they do not encourage empirical experiment with philosophical judgments; and they do not extend the shared governance of the dialogue to other aspects of social life. None of these are limitations of the programs’ stated objectives.

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