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character or conduct that emphasizes practicality.
a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value.
Contemporary Examples

In short, these “solutions” represent neither principles nor pragmatism, and instead reflect dangerous phantasms and fanaticism.
Israel and Palestine Vs. ‘Blood and Magic’ Hussein Ibish, Saliba Sarsar September 16, 2013

We need to blend inspiration and discipline, optimism and pragmatism, just as Walt did a half century ago.
The Disney Fix for the Economy John Kao August 23, 2010

Not surprisingly, pragmatism has greater appeal to political independents and moderates than to Republicans.
Stuffy Old Men: Region, Religion, Race and Class Define and Buffet GOP Lloyd Green March 30, 2013

As the campaign shifts from the primary to the general, even the edgiest candidates begin to show signs of pragmatism.
Dems’ Albatross Strategy Benjamin Sarlin June 17, 2010

Reagan succeeded because he married a reputation for principle with an instinct for pragmatism.
The Republicans’ Reagan Amnesia Peter Beinart January 31, 2010

Historical Examples

It is pragmatism as method which is emphasized, I take it, in the subtitle, “a new name for some old ways of thinking.”
Essays in Experimental Logic John Dewey

The extremes of mysticism and of pragmatism have their own expressions of worship.
Breaking Point James E. Gunn

He was told that pragmatism was a method, and felt obliged to pretend that this enlightened him.
The Wrong Twin Harry Leon Wilson

It is perhaps as a matter of “taste” that pragmatism proves most unsatisfactory to it.
The Complex Vision John Cowper Powys

Yet pragmatism must respect this way, for it has massive historic vindication.
Pragmatism William James

action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma

the doctrine that the content of a concept consists only in its practical applicability
the doctrine that truth consists not in correspondence with the facts but in successful coherence with experience See also instrumentalism


“matter-of-fact treatment,” 1825, from Greek pragmat-, stem of pragma “that which has been done” (see pragmatic) + -ism. As a philosophical doctrine, 1898, said to be from 1870s; probably from German Pragmatismus. As a name for a political theory, from 1951. Related: Pragmatist (1630s as “busybody;” 1892 as “adherent of a pragmatic philosophy”).

pragmatism prag·ma·tism (prāg’mə-tĭz’əm)
A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.
prag·mat’ic (-māt’ĭk) adj.
prag’ma·tist n.

An approach to philosophy, primarily held by American philosophers, which holds that the truth or meaning of a statement is to be measured by its practical (i.e., pragmatic) consequences. William James and John Dewey were pragmatists.


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