What Is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is an approach to philosophy that seeks to evaluate ideas and beliefs based on their practical consequences. Pragmatists believe that reality is in a constant state of becoming and that actions can alter its course (Goldkuhl 2012; Morgan 2014a). In other words, truth is not fixed or absolute, but instead is determined by what works and what does not. Pragmatists therefore reject correspondence theories of truth and favor the pragmatist theory of utility, which states that “true hypotheses are those that generate acceptable results” (James and Dewey).

A person can be described as pragmatic when they are more concerned with what actually is than what could or should be. People who are pragmatic tend to be more practical and results oriented, which may mean that they are willing to compromise to achieve an end goal. They are also likely to understand that they can’t always have everything their way and will be able to work well with others, even if they don’t agree on everything.

Individuals who have a deficit in pragmatic skills may struggle with social interactions and relationships, or may experience difficulty communicating effectively in the workplace. These individuals may benefit from pragmatic skills therapy, which can help them learn to initiate conversations and interpret social cues. Enhanced communication can improve emotional well-being, reduce frustration and anxiety, and lead to greater academic and professional success.

The primary goal of pragmatic skills therapy is to teach individuals to initiate and maintain conversations with others, interpret social cues, and adapt their communication style to different situations. This can help them build meaningful relationships, communicate clearly in the workplace, and resolve conflicts with coworkers. A variety of disorders and conditions can impact pragmatic skills, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and developmental delays in language development.

A key challenge to pragmatism is its tendency to dismiss fixed theories as dogmas and its skepticism towards established bodies of knowledge. Critics argue that this can undermine the accumulation of knowledge and discourage theoretical advancements. For example, a pragmatist’s refusal to accept that Africans are not the same as Europeans, which “worked” for slave owners in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, can ultimately undermine human rights efforts for racial equality.

Another challenge is the danger of a bias towards short-term outcomes and immediate gratification in evaluations. This can lead to short-term thinking that neglects longer-term goals and a hedonistic view of life. For example, prioritizing profits over quality and morality can harm a company’s reputation in the long term. Pragmatism is a complex and nuanced philosophical approach that requires careful consideration of its strengths and weaknesses. However, it is an important philosophy for understanding the world and interacting with others in a meaningful way.