from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Philosophy A movement consisting of varying but associated theories, originally developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James and distinguished by the doctrine that the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences.
  • noun A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Pragmatical character or conduct; officiousness; busy impertinence.
  • noun In history, same as pragmatic method. See pragmatic, a.
  • noun In philosophy, a method of thought, a general movement or tendency of thought, and a specific school, in which stress is placed upon practical consequences and practical values as standards for explicating philosophic conceptions and as tests for determining their value and, especially, their truth.
  • noun A theory of the nature of truth, namely, that the correspondence between fact and idea which constitutes truth consists in the power of the idea in question to work satisfactorily, or to produce the results intended by it.
  • noun A metaphysical theory regarding the nature of reality, namely that it is still in process of making, and that human ideas and efforts play a fundamental rôle in its making: the equivalent of humanism as a metaphysical term.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The quality or state of being pragmatic; in literature, the pragmatic, or philosophical, method.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The pursuit of practicality over aesthetic qualities; a concentration on facts rather than emotions or ideals.
  • noun politics The theory that political problems should be met with practical solutions rather than ideological ones.
  • noun philosophy The idea that beliefs are identified with the actions of a believer, and the truth of beliefs with success of those actions in securing a believer's goals; the doctrine that ideas must be looked at in terms of their practical effects and consequences.

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

  • noun (philosophy) the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value
  • noun the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek stem of πρᾶγμα (pragma, "act") + -ism.


  • Although they continued to refer back to Peirce's 1878 paper as the source of pragmatism, and they continued to regard concepts and hypotheses as functioning as instruments, they did not always think of ˜pragmatism™ as denoting ˜the principle of Peirce™.


  • I wish it might do so; for its author admits all MY essential contentions, simply distinguishing my account of truth as 'modified' pragmatism from Schiller's and Dewey's, which he calls pragmatism of the 'radical' sort.

    Meaning of Truth

  • But in fact I wholeheartedly endorse Rohan's critical pragmatism; indeed, this kind of pragmatism is at the very core of my philosophy of criticism, along with John Dewey's insistence that it is the aesthetic experience of literature that is the immediate object of critical appreciation, an experience that can be satisfied in a multitude of ways.

    Principles of Literary Criticism

  • Second, pragmatism is the thing human society can least afford at this stage in our development.

    Matthew Yglesias » Bob Corker Blasts GOP Leadership

  • It looks like pragmatism is a political cop-out; compromise is certainly viewed that way.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Strange Case for the Filibuster

  • As British ministers deliberate how they will vote in the Security Council, they are confronted with the choice between what is morally right – supporting a Palestinian state – and hypocrisy justified in the name of pragmatism.

    A Palestinian state is a moral right | Observer editorial

  • A similar chilly pragmatism is at work in those homeowners now using the courts to remain in a house they defaulted on months or years ago.

    House Afire

  • As a citizen and voter, I expect a minimum level of common sense and pragmatism from the people elected to represent me.

    Uncategorized Blog Posts

  • Pure pragmatism is the antithesis of populism, and Washington tars politicians with mark of the unprincipled politician.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Bloggers think Repubs should associate with Tea Party. Disagree on whether independent run would help Crist

  • As a citizen and voter, I expect a minimum level of common sense and pragmatism from the people elected to represent me.

    Pandering to Gun Owners


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