[ in-struh-men-tl-iz-uhm ]

  1. the variety of pragmatism developed by John Dewey, maintaining that the truth of an idea is determined by its success in the active solution of a problem and that the value of ideas is determined by their function in human experience.

Origin of instrumentalism

First recorded in 1905–10; instrumental + -ism

Words Nearby instrumentalism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use instrumentalism in a sentence

  • In the logical version of pragmatism termed instrumentalism, action or practice does indeed play a fundamental rle.

  • Is instrumentalism only283 philistinism called by a more descriptive name?

    Creative Intelligence | John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen
  • This explains why this conception was labeled instrumentalism or pragmatics of verification.

  • For instrumentalism, however, the alleged dilemma simply does not exist.

  • On the contrary, instrumentalism is the only theory to which deduction is not a mystery.

British Dictionary definitions for instrumentalism


/ (ˌɪnstrəˈmɛntəˌlɪzəm) /

  1. a system of pragmatic philosophy holding that ideas are instruments, that they should guide our actions and can change the world, and that their value consists not in their truth but in their success

  2. an antirealist philosophy of science that holds that theories are not true or false but are merely tools for deriving predictions from observational data

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012