In The Public and Its Problems, a book on social and political philosophy, John Dewey displays his beliefs of the potential of human intelligence to solve the public's problems. From his own perspective, Dewey makes clear the meaning and implications of such concepts as "the public," "the state," "government," and "political democracy."
Dewey’s explains all of this by showing differences between the "state," which is represented by selected lawmakers, and the "public," the diffuse, a body of citizens who generally choose the people for the state. The public is called when individuals experience the negative consequences of exchanges beyond their control (such as market or governmental activities). The public is made up of people whose similar interest is fixated on dissolving these negative externalities through legislation; in fact, Dewey believes that a public does not really exist until a negative externality calls it into being.
Dewey declares that this occurs when people can begin to comprehend how the results of indirect actions affect them as a whole: “Indirect, extensive, enduring and serious consequences of conjoint and interacting behavior call a public into existence having a common interest in controlling these consequences” (Dewey, 126).Therefore, a public only develops when it has purpose and comes together around a subject of significance or of importance.
Dewey reluctantly acknowledges the arguments of other opponents of modern democracy such as, Walter Lippman. Dewey believes there are influential forces that work in order to conceal the public and stop it from clearly defining its needs. For example, Dewey explains how special interest, controlling corporate wealth, numbing and diverting entertainment, common desires, and the ideas of public communication make valuable public discussion difficult.
While individuals like Walter Lippmann believe that the public has little volume to be a reasonable participant in democracy and basically do not exist, Dewey on the other hand holds a more positive view of the public and its possibilities. Dewey did not call for a renunciation of the public; rather, he hoped the public would reach a point where it would get back a sense of...