Date of Award

8-31-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

Department

Liberal Studies

First Reader

Joanna Zangrando

Second Reader

David Marcel

Abstract

Journalist Walter Lippmann and philosopher John Dewey engaged in an extended dialogue in the 1 920s regarding the condition and future of American democracy. In a series of books and essays the two intellectuals confronted issues that have been debated since the creation of the American republic and that remain contested today: how public opinion is formed; the capacity of individual citizens to render judgments concerning public affairs; the role that public opinion ought to play in formulating public policy; the possibility of establishing a truly democratic community. This paper argues that the issues Lippmann and Dewey addressed and the conclusions they reached are products of their experiences during the Progressive Era, World War I, and the immediate post-war era, but that they also reflect the characters of each man. While neither man was able to fashion wholly satisfactory responses to the challenges of American political life, both framed the issues in original and provocative terms that serve well in any contemporary discussion of American democracy.

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