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Philosophical movement first given systematic expression by Charles Sanders Peirce and William James and later taken up and transformed by John Dewey. Pragmatists emphasize the practical function of knowledge as an instrument for adapting to reality and controlling it. Pragmatism agrees with empiricism in its emphasis on the priority of experience over a priori reasoning. Whereas truth had traditionally been explained in terms of correspondence with reality or in terms of coherence (seecoherentism), pragmatism holds that truth is to be found in the process of verification. Pragmatists interpret ideas as instruments and plans of action rather than as images of reality; more specifically, they are suggestions and anticipations of possible conduct, hypotheses or forecasts of what will result from a given action, or ways of organizing behaviour. See alsoW.V.O. Quine; Richard Rorty.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pragmatism, visit Britannica.com.