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Pragmatism is the distinctive contribution of American thought to philosophy. It is a movement that attracted much attention in the early part of the twentieth century, went into decline, and reemerged in the last part of the century. Part of the difficulty in defining pragmatism is that misconceptions of what pragmatism means have abounded since its beginning, and continue in today's “neopragmatism.”

Pragmatism is a method of philosophy begun by Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), popularized by William James (1842–1910), and associated with two other major early representatives, John Dewey (1859–1952) and George Herbert Mead (1863–1931). Pragmatism was defined in 1878 by Peirce ([1878]1992) as follows: “Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our ...

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