Pragmatic Philosophy


Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition which views language and thought as tools for prediction, problem solving, and action rather than as ways of describing or mirroring reality. Pragmatists claim that most philosophical topics-including the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, and belief-are best viewed pragmatically, in terms of their usefulness or failure to achieve practical results.

The philosophy of pragmatism was founded by the American philosophers Chauncey Wright (1830-1875), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935), and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) among others. It is also known as pragmatist philosophy or practical philosophy.

Classical pragmatists were skeptical of epistemological theories that assert that empirical knowledge rests on some kind of epistemically privileged foundation-for example, that a set of immediate perceptual experiences provide the basis for all subsequent knowledge. They favored the idea that knowledge is more like a web than a hierarchically structured building, and that even the most immediate experience is a mixture of various kinds of information.

In linguistics, pragmatics is the study of how context contributes to meaning. Linguists who specialize in pragmatics are called pragmaticians. There are several subfields of pragmatics. Computational pragmatics, for example, is a part of natural language processing (NLP) and involves the use of contextual information to help computers better approximate human language and information processing abilities. Reference resolution, the process of determining whether a word or phrase has the same meaning as another word or phrase in another context, is an important aspect of computational pragmatics.

Pragmatics as a discipline has been criticized for its lack of theoretical underpinnings. Its advocates have defended it by arguing that, unlike semantics and syntax, pragmatics is a bottom-up approach to meaning that does not depend on any abstract rules or concepts of its own. In contrast, semantics focuses on the meanings of individual words and syntactic analysis analyzes relationships between them.

The third flaw of pragmatism is that it is an epistemological position and therefore can be used to justify all kinds of fallacies, both in the physical world and in the intellectual realm. It can be used to promote dangerous ideas or to create a false sense of security. This can lead to unintended consequences and morally questionable behavior.

The pragmatists were a diverse group of thinkers who had much in common, including the conviction that most philosophical issues are best viewed pragmatically. Their main goal was to create a practical philosophy that could survive the test of everyday life and that would help people live happier, more fulfilling lives. Despite its initial promise, pragmatism lost its momentum after the death of John Dewey in 1952. Since then it has enjoyed a modest revival. It has also been influenced by recent developments in the philosophy of science, philosophy of logic, and the social sciences. Pragmatics is a key component of both the philosophy of science and of ethics. It is also a popular topic in high school and college philosophy classes. It is also a central theme in some business schools and the management consulting field.