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  1. (PSYCHOLOGY) an excessive or obsessional adherence to social conventions, sometimes seen as one of the components of, or a manifestation of, an AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY.
  2. (PHILOSOPHY) the view that scientific knowledge is a matter of convention, rather than something that can be given an entirely secure basis resting on the nature of things, or as arising from unchanging methodological rules or procedures. As an epistemological and an ontological view, conventionalism is at odds with EMPIRICISM or REALISM. See also PRAGMATISM, POSITIVISM.



a movement in the philosophical interpretation of science, according to which theories in mathematics and the natural sciences are based on arbitrary agreements (definitions or conventions among scientists) that are chosen entirely on the basis of convenience, expediency, the “principle of economy of thought,” and so on. The founder of conventionalism, H. Poincaré (France), developed conventionalism in reference to physics and, especially, to mathematics. The axiomatization of a number of mathematical disciplines and the development of non-Euclidean geometries, which showed that different geometries equivalent to one another could correspond to the same space, led Poincaré to conclude that geometry does not have an empirical origin and tells us nothing about the real world.

The next phase of conventionalism was associated with the development of mathematical logic in the 1930’s and was expressed with particular clarity in the early works of R. Carnap (Austria) and K. Ajdukiewicz (Poland). Carnap formulated the so-called principle of tolerance, according to which any system whatever of axioms and syntactical rules may be made the foundation of any theory in the natural sciences. Ajdukiewicz developed the point of view of “radical conventionalism,” according to which the representation of the world in science depends on our choice of conceptual apparatus, and in this choice we are free. But neither Carnap nor Ajdukiewicz was subsequently able to develop this view consistently, and they modified their conception. At the present time one does not find conventionalism in a pure form. Certain of its elements are found in neopositivism, pragmatism, and operationalism.

In criticizing conventionalism, dialectical materialism finds it unsound because it denies the objective basis of conventions in science and abstracts from the content of scientific knowledge.


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Exporting democratic values was significantly correlated with pro-war attitudes, the valuation of national strength and order, authoritarian aggression and submission, and conventionalism.
Conventionalism implies sociality, utility, and active law: (1) contracts emerge as social conventions; (2)the classical normative reason for keeping the social convention of contracting is their utility for social interaction; and (3) law enables and constitutes contractual obligations.
The attempt to make sense of conventionalism leads to an infinite regress.
Conventionalism, which is not associated with anti-Roma prejudices;
Conventionalism is explained such as: based on or in accordance with general agreement, use, or practice; idealistic tendency to comply with the rules already accepted, without perceiving their own realistic facts.
Ben-Menahem argues that Quine despairs of the possibility of grounding logical truth in a finite number of explicit conventions, (4) associates realism with the grammar of "true," construes conventionalism as sanctioning the stipulation of truth, describes the notion of truth by convention as itself a metaphor, draws attention to the interplay between the conceptual and the empirical, clarifies the desirability of organizing schemata around material appearances of terms, and wields his regression argument to challenge the conventionalist account qua explanation of logic.
These leaders redefine conventionalism and create their own success, all while changing lives.
Taken as a whole, the essays offer a coherent philosophy centered on de Jasay's overriding conventionalism.
He was naturally led to a consideration of the nature of species, where he opposed essentialism in favour of a relativized conventionalism.
these folks more or less joined hands and leapt off the cliff of conventionalism and set out to make their living as stewards of the land and husbands of the livestock they accepted responsibility for.
It briefly addresses pluralism and relativism in ethics, situation ethics, conventionalism, scientism, emotivism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, Nietzscheanism, and the "threat-safeguard" approach.
The path of conventionalism is clearly more interesting than the pragmatismbased approach as a potential candidate for explicating the implied author.