As discussed above, Dewey was driven from beginning to end of his career by a concern to overcome the dualism in our culture between mind and matter, body and soul. No where was this more disconcertingly true than in the separation of science from morality, yet he thought that the way one arrived at ethical and scientific judgment were essentially the same. The problem posed by water going in and out of a dump provides a setting in, which problem definition and solution clearly and inseparably involve science and ethics. Indeed economics, politics, philosophy and religion find their place too. It provides a classic example of how Dewey conceived problems should be solved. Neither absolutes nor simple rational abstractions are of much value. One has to begin with a sense of vision of what kind of future one wants and from there, work backwards to finding necessary facts and construct working models of how one gets from present realities to proposed destiny. Science, economics, politics, philosophy, ethics and religion are inseparably bound because one is dealing with the fate of the earth and decisions have to be made now.
One way of clarifying the process is to role play the current debate of New Haven and the State of Connecticut over what to do with garbage. Garbage is dumped outside of the state. One could imagine a proposed site and have students play roles of people involved in a planning hearing. The dump will bring in money and help the local economy. There will be a school nearby. Greenpeace activists have got involved including a New Age witch, a local church, farmers, the DOE and a university geologist etc. Data is collected from existing Connecticut dumps and students build a model of a dump using probable waste that will be tipped into it. Water is seeped though it and residues are collected at the base lining of the dump. Samples are analyzed. Simple chromatographic analysis may be useful as part of a general investigation as to what happens inside of dumps in terms of decomposition (or lack of it) and in terms of leaching and chemical reactions between materials and water etc.
How safe is the dump and over what time scales are we dealing with. What are the consequences and so forth and so forth. In this way the reasoning becomes necessarily interdisciplinary; and the reasoning skills essentially a single piece as the fate of the dump is decided upon.