Pragmatism and the Cultivation of Digital Democracies

Written by: Christopher Long

Primary Source: Christopher P. Long, September 16, 2017

As technology enables us to communicate with one another in unpredictable ways that allow for an unprecedented public exchange of diverse ideas, cultivating the philosophical habits of an engaged fallibilistic pluralism gains in urgency.

The emergence of the World Wide calls us to consider how an ethics of philosophy might enable us to cultivate practices of communication capable of creating enriching communities in a digital age.

In Pragmatism and the Cultivation of Digital Democracies, I draw on Richard Bernstein’s account of the ethos of pragmatism in his 1988 Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association and on the thinking of Charles Peirce and John Dewey to advocate for practices of digital communicative transaction rooted in the habits of an “engaged fallibilistic pluralism.”

This is a chapter in a book dedicated to Richard Bernstein entitled, Richard J. Bernstein and the Expansion of American Philosophy: Thinking the Pluralpublished by Rowman & Littlefield. They have given me permission to post my contribution here in its full post-production form under the condition that I include the following:

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Pragmatism and the Cultivation of Digital Democracies



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Christopher P. Long is dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. His extensive publications in Ancient Greek and Contemporary Continental Philosophy include three books: The Ethics of Ontology: Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy (SUNY 2004), Aristotle On the Nature of Truth (Cambridge 2010), and an enhanced digital book entitled, Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading (Cambridge 2014). The digital platform of the enhanced digital book enables readers to engage directly with the author in an online community. He is also co-founder of the Public Philosophy Journal, a project that has received over $780,000 of funding from the Mellon Foundation to create an innovative online space of digital scholarship and communication. To learn more about his administrative approach and his recent research in Philosophy, digital scholarly communication, and the educational use of social media technologies, visit his blog: He is the host of the Digital Dialogue podcast ( and can be reached on Twitter @cplong and @deancplong.

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