This article questions the nature of the philosophical commitment to the problem of 'the public' in modernity. To what extent does the natural form of the public determine the use and value of the instruments of pragmatism in the public–private divide. In this interpretation, John Dewey's ideas about 'the public' are presented in terms of how to solve a specific problem through what he sees as 'co-operative inquiry'. The article also examines the role of public space in the process of democratization through the potential of co-operative inquiry. More often than not, it appears that the politics of public space may be both detrimental and/or beneficial to its end-users in China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the rest of Asia.