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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.


References in periodicals archive ?
Up to today, it might because this industrial engineers' conventionalism trait, professional knowledge transferring and sharing did not work appropriately (Nonaka and Teece 2001; Bonner 2000; Park et al.
We shared idealism and a disdain for conventionalism, but were apprehensive about what the next years in Kenya would bring.
Dworkin explains that Conventionalism does permit a court to depart from binding precedent where the prior decision was "especially immoral," such as where the United States Supreme Court in Brown v.
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Consequently, they sought couple relationships grounded in the actual experience of love and deep attachment, and they rejected the conventionalism that had governed women's lives in previous generations.
Wittgenstein's point is that it's a mistake to suppose that the dependence of meaning, thinking and understanding on feeling, interest, and a shared sense of what matters saddles us with vulgar conventionalism.
Complacency and conventionalism must not underestimate consumer integrity.
This claim is hard to maintain given Hobbes's conventionalism, which seems to anticipate feminist arguments that would be made in the decades and centuries after his death.
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The three paintings from a private collection discussed in this article are of cultural significance as they exemplify a break with such artistic conventionalism.
But she is not just writing for the benefit of indigenous peoples, she is writing to inform the West of new ways of knowing, hoping to break the barrier of conventionalism and stereotypes.
963 (2001); Peter Shane, Conventionalism in Constitutional Interpretation and the Place of Administrative Agencies, 36 AM.