John Dewey has long recognized as one of America’s greatest philosophers. Yet his social philosophy has been underappreciated, especially as it has served to influence much of contemporary Communitarian thought. The purpose of this essay is to revisit aspects of Dewey’s alleged liberalism, specifically with respect to questions of human nature, social norms, morality, rights, social control, the role of institutions, and the place of the State. One sees that Dewey over time altered his perception of man as a fundamentally communal being and, in so doing, allowed a place for State control in shaping conduct to desired social ends, apparently unconcerned that such a program would lead in the end to the loss of individuality he so sought to protect.
A branch of the French social sciences has emerged in the 1980s, known as ‘the economics of conventions’. The term convention is introduced to subvert the utilitarianism of neo-classical economic theory. However, there is no consensual and stabilized definition of this notion. According to the investigation undertaken in this paper in order to clarify basic concepts, this term should be used for naming a research perspective. Researchers involved in ‘the economics of convention’ face two issues : the methodological issue raised by the interactions between institutions and action; the political issue raised by the assessment and the improvement of institutional measures. This article aims to show how the pragmatic philosophy of John Dewey allows for dealing with these issues.