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Pragmatism, philosophical method whose criterion of truth is relative to events and not, as in traditional philosophy, absolute and independent of human experience. A theory is pragmatically true if it “works”—if it has an intended or predicted effect. All human undertakings are viewed as attempts to solve problems in the world of action; if theories are not trial solutions capable of being tested, they are pointless. The philosophy of pragmatism was developed in reaction to late 19th-century idealism, mainly by the U.S. philosophers C.S. Peirce, W. James, and John Dewey.

See also: Dewey, John; James, William; Peirce, Charles Sanders.

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