1. action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma
2. (Philosophy) Philosophy
a. the doctrine that the content of a concept consists only in its practical applicability
b. the doctrine that truth consists not in correspondence with the facts but in successful coherence with experience See also instrumentalism
pragmatist n & adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
There is a psychological school called "Behaviourists," of whom the protagonist is Professor John B. Watson,* formerly of the Johns Hopkins University. To them also, on the whole, belongs Professor John Dewey, who, with James and Dr. Schiller, was one of the three founders of pragmatism. The view of the "behaviourists" is that nothing can be known except by external observation. They deny altogether that there is a separate source of knowledge called "introspection," by which we can know things about ourselves which we could never observe in others. They do not by any means deny that all sorts of things MAY go on in our minds: they only say that such things, if they occur, are not susceptible of scientific observation, and do not therefore concern psychology as a science. Psychology as a science, they say, is only concerned with BEHAVIOUR, i.e. with what we DO; this alone, they contend, can be accurately observed. Whether we think meanwhile, they tell us, cannot be known; in their observation of the behaviour of human beings, they have not so far found any evidence of thought. True, we talk a great deal, and imagine that in so doing we are showing that we can think; but behaviourists say that the talk they have to listen to can be explained without supposing that people think. Where you might expect a chapter on "thought processes" you come instead upon a chapter on "The Language Habit." It is humiliating to find how terribly adequate this hypothesis turns out to be.