AskDefine | Define meliorist

Dictionary Definition

meliorist n : a disputant who advocates reform [syn: reformer, reformist, crusader]

User Contributed Dictionary



From melior and English -ist. Reportedly coined by British author George Eliot in her letters, published in 1877.


  1. A proponent of meliorism


  1. Of or relating to meliorism.
  2. Supporting the principles of meliorism.


  • "meliorist" in Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation.
  • "meliorist" at Rhymezone © 2006 Datamuse.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
  • Dictionary of Philosophy, Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Philosophical Library, 1962. See: "Meliorism" by Archie J. Bahm, p. 195.

Extensive Definition

Meliorism is an idea in metaphysical thinking holding that progress is a real concept leading to an improvement of the world. It holds that humans can, through their interference with processes that would otherwise be natural, produce an outcome which is an improvement over the aforementioned natural one.
In comparison, one may contrast this concept with that of apologism.
Meliorism, as a conception of the person and society, is at the foundation of contemporary liberal democracy and human rights.
Another important understanding of the meliorist tradition comes from the American Pragmatic tradition. One can read about it in the works of Lester Frank Ward, William James and John Dewey.
Meliorism has also been used by Arthur Caplan to describe positions in bioethics that are in favor of ameliorating conditions which cause suffering, even if the conditions have long existed (e.g. being in favor of cures for common diseases, being in favor of serious anti-aging therapies as they are developed).

External links

meliorist in German: Meliorismus
meliorist in Persian: ملیوریسم
meliorist in French: Méliorisme
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