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Ism Central


A

AGNOSTICISM

The belief that we can't know whether God exists.

ALTRUISM

The belief that your moral decisions should be determined by the well-being of other people.

ANARCHISM

The belief that we should have no organized government.

ANIMISM

The belief that everything in the universe (or the universe itself) has a soul or is a living being.

ARISTOTELIANISM

Any defense or promotion of the philosophy of Aristotle.

ATHEISM

The belief that God does not exist.

ATOMISM

The idea that everything is made of tiny, simple particles that are chaotic and without design.

B

BEHAVIORISM

The belief that mental processes can be understood by observing the way a person acts.

C

COMMUNISM

A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and the organization of labor for the advantage of all members.

COMPATIBILISM

The belief that although human behavior is usually caused by something, we still have a responsibility to act morally.

CONCEPTUALISM

The idea that our understanding of words depends on our experiences.

CONSEQUENTIALISM

The idea that how moral your actions are depends on what results from them.

CONSUMERISM

The attachment to materialistic values or possessions.

CONVENTIONALISM

The belief that concepts such as good and evil are determined by consensus rather than an external reality.

CONSERVATISM

A political philosophy that emphasizes respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order.

CORPUSCULARISM

A physical theory that is very similar to atomism in that it holds that all of matter is made of tiny chaotic particles.

D

DARWINISM

A theory of biological evolution stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations.

DECONSTRUCTIONISM

A method of interpretation that looks for things excluded by a given text.

DEISM

A belief in God based entirely on logic with no reference to faith, revelation, or religion.

DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM

Arriving at the idea that there is no deeper or external reality (such as heaven) by means of dialogue, discussion, or debate.

DIRECT REALISM

The idea that we see things directly and as they really are without our thoughts or preconceptions getting in the way.

DUALISM

The idea that mental things and physical things are completely separate from one another and have nothing in common.

E

EGOISM

The belief that how we behave is completely determined by our own selfish interests.

ELIMINITIVISM

The belief that we should try to replace complex explanations of things with simpler or more certain concepts.

EMOTIVISM

The theory that the only thing moral language expresses are powerful human feelings that are subjective.

EMPIRICISM

The belief that experience is the only source of knowledge and ideas.

EPICUREANISM

The idea that everything that happens in the universe is outside of human control; all we can do is passively experience the world.

EPIPHENOMENALISM

The belief that mental events cannot have an impact on the physical world.

EUDAEMONISM

The attempt to achieve happiness in an objective sense rather than seek subjective pleasure.

EXISTENTIALISM

A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile and indifferent universe.

F

FASCISM

A system of government involving a dictator, tight socioeconomic controls, suppression of opposition through terror and censorship, and a policy of nationalism and racism.

FEMINISM

A commitment to bringing about the end of male dominance in society.

FIDEISM

The belief that religious doctrines are a matter of faith rather than reason.

H

HEDONISM

The belief that pleasure is the highest value.

HISTORICISM

The belief that social structures, events, and texts are best understood in their historical context.

HUMANISM

The belief that human beings are the source of all value and have the ability to understand and control the natural world.

I

IDEALISM

The belief that it is only those things in the mind that are real; physical things only exist in our mental perception of them.

INSTRUMENTALISM

The belief that theories can be used for prediction even if those theories are false.

INTERACTIONISM

The belief that our minds and bodies can affect each other even though they are completely separate entities.

INTUITIONISM

The reliance on instinctual awareness as a test of what is true.

J

JANESENISM

The belief that we can only obey God if God makes us do so.

L

LEGAL POSITIVISM

The belief that the laws of society are nothing but the will of those in power at any given moment.

LIBERALISM

A political current that typically favors the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters.

LOGICAL POSITIVISM

A philosophical movement holding that nothing is real that can't be observed, including metaphysics, ethics, and theology.

M

MARXISM

The belief that humans are only motivated by the desire to maintain or overcome their economic class status.

MATERIALISM

The belief that only physical things truly exist.

MONISM

The belief that only things of one certain kind exist.

MORAL RELATIVISM

The belief that right and wrong are arbitrary and determined by the individual or culture.

MYSTICISM

The belief that we can understand a divine reality through spiritual contemplation rather than through other types of thought processes.

N

NATURALISM

the belief that all objects, events, and values can be completely explained without reference to the supernatural.

NEOPLATONISM

The belief that the natural world is merely a series of emanations from the nature of God.

NEUTRAL MONISM

The belief that physical and mental processes are parts of the same substance, which is neither completely mental nor physical in nature.

NIHILISM

A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

NOMINALISM

The opposite of realism; the belief that only particular things exist; there are no universals.

NONCOGNITIVISM

The belief that moral assertions are neither true nor false but merely express attitudes, feelings, desires, or demands.

O

OCCASIONALISM

The belief that all causes and effects are the product of a third thing, usually divine providence.

OPERATIONALISM

The belief that the meaning of scientific concepts is best seen in a description of how well they work.

P

PANPSYCHISM

The belief that everything in the world has a mental aspect.

PANENTHEISM

The position which affirms, not “God is everything and everything is God,” but "God is in everything and everything is in God.”

PANTHEISM

The view that God is everything and everything is God.

PARALLELISM

The belief that although the human mind and body do not affect each other, their features and actions coordinate perfectly.

PERCEPTUALISM

A belief in the optical truth (what is actually there) as opposed to what something means.

PHENOMENALISM

The belief that physical objects have no reality beyond our perception of them.

PHYSICALISM

The belief that everything that occurs in the mind can be explained through the physical world.

PLURALISM

The belief that reality includes many different kinds of things, that there are many different sources of value.

POSITIVISM

The belief that natural science, based on observations, is the only kind of knowledge we can have.

POSTMODERNISM

The rejection of the notion of universal objective truth.

PRAGMATISM

The idea that meaning and truth are practical outcomes of actions performed under the influence of ideas and beliefs.

PRESCRIPTIVISM

The idea that the use of moral language commits one to act in accordance with those morals.

R

RATIONALISM

The belief that reason is the only reliable source of human knowledge.

REALISM

The opposite of nominalism; the belief in universal principles that are independent of particular things.

REDUCTIONISM

The belief that statements of one sort can be systematically replaced by statements of a simpler kind.

RELATIVISM

The belief that there are no absolutes, only perspectives that are specific to a particular time, place, or society.

REPRESENTATIONALISM

The belief that we are aware of objects only through the ideas that represent them.

RULE UTILITARIANISM

The view that an action is right if good consequences follow for everyone who performs that action.

S

SCIENTIFIC NATURALISM

A philosophical tenet that describes life as a mechanically unfolding process without a supernatural cause.

SKEPTICISM

The belief that some or all human knowledge is impossible.

SOCIALISM

A system of ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society rather than by private individuals.

SOLIPSISM

The belief that only one's self is real and everything else is an object of consciousness.

SOPHISM

An argument that sounds good but that is really false, especially if delivered by someone who is being knowingly deceptive.

STOICISM

A collection of human knowledge that includes formal logic, physical study of the natural world, and a naturalistic explanation of human nature and conduct.

SYLLOGISM

A leap in logic where a conclusion follows from only two premises.

T

THEISM

The belief in the existence of God as an entity worthy of worship.

U

UTILITARIANISM

The idea that human conduct is either right or wrong depending on how it affects other people.

V

VOLUNTARISM

The belief that reality, morality, and the structure of society are determined by a divine will.