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John Dewey is rightly hailed today as America's most influential philosopher. Whether or not one agrees with critics who say that he has overstressed the practical, I believe it undeniable that his thinking about thinking has had immensely valuable effects on thinking in many fields. His outstanding thesis, to state it crudely, has been that all generalizations–all theories, principles, rules–should be tested by observing how they work in practice. Leading legal thinkers in particular have often quoted with approval his theory about the relations of theory and practice. Those thinkers, in turn, have influenced many other legal thinkers who have exploited Dewey's insights, often without acknowledgement or knowledge of their debt to him.
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