Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The belief that improvement of society depends on human effort.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The doctrine that there is a tendency throughout nature toward improvement.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The improvement of society by regulated practical means: opposed to the passive principle of both pessimism and optimism.
  • n. The doctrine that the world is neither the worst nor the best possible, but that it is capable of improvement: a mean between theoretical pessimism and optimism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the belief that the world can be made better by human effort

Etymologies

Latin melior, better; see mel-2 in Indo-European roots + -ism.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin melior ("better") +‎ -ism. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term optimism as thus extended would also include "meliorism", a word first used in print by Sully to designate the theory of those who hold that things are, indeed, bad, but that they can be better, and that it is in our power to increase the happiness and welfare of mankind.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11: New Mexico-Philip

  • But given how messianic aspects of neoconservatism would subsequently become it's interesting to note that Kristol also (and in my view correctly) quipped that "meliorism" was all that could be hoped for even though: "Unsurprisingly, "coping" rather than "solving" lacks dramatic appeal for journalists as for politicians."

    John Terry’s sacking as England captain tells us something interesting...

  • Those opponents of Fabianism who desire something more revolutionary than its political 'meliorism' and 'palliatives' accuse it of alliance with bureaucracy.

    The History of the Fabian Society

  • It is, however, fair to state that the term “meliorism,” coined by William James, describes far more accurately than “optimism” the view of the process philosophers mentioned.

    TIME

  • The antonym to meliorism is apologism, which condemns attempts to alter earthly conditions; in this essay apologism stands for the idea that prolongevity is neither possible nor desirable.

    LONGEVITY

  • Although Descartes differs from Bacon on method - ology, he holds similar views in favor of meliorism, including prolongevity.

    LONGEVITY

  • What is not meaningful is incremental meliorism in the face of a coming catastrophe and against the opposition of a overwhelming oligarchic hegemony.

    Matthew Yglesias » Endgame

  • It is important to study the Weimar history, another time when centrists tried accomodation, comity, incrementalism, and meliorism enabled and abetted the murder of millions.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Real German Resistance to Hitler: The Social Democrats

  • And it is just such meliorism that numbers among the many emotions Cleopatra feels when she talks about an “armour of gold” for Antony.

    BREAKFAST WITH SOCRATES

  • Apologism stands solidly in opposition to the metaphysics of meliorism, which states that absolute "progress" is the desirable goal of all human endeavors.

    "Although I thought Ann's Rush apologism was unseemly and unfounded, I have to say I basically agree with Jon Chait..."

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