What Is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is the study of the contextual meaning of language. This is different than semantics, which focuses on what words and sentences mean in a literal sense. It also goes beyond the linguistic to consider social, cultural, and situational factors. It is the study of how people negotiate meaning through language in their interactions and communication with each other.

Pragmatism is often viewed as an alternative to both the analytic and Continental (“Continental”) philosophical traditions. It has been especially prominent in the United States and is sometimes called American pragmatism, since many of its proponents were Americans (notably Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey). It presents a third option to the analytic and Continental philosophies and has gained popularity in recent years.

The term ‘pragmatic’ is derived from the Greek root praxis, which refers to action, doing things. A ‘pragmatic’ person is someone who is concerned with results and consequences, as opposed to theory or ideas.

When we think of a pragmatic person, we typically think of someone who is able to adapt to situations quickly and effectively. They can take into consideration a variety of influences and perspectives when making decisions and finding solutions. They are also more likely to be able to deal with ambiguity.

Despite its popularity, there is some debate among philosophers about what pragmatic means. Some philosophers believe that pragmatism is simply the idea that actions and decisions should be based on what works, rather than on what would be theoretically ideal. Others, however, argue that pragmatism is actually a philosophy that places significant value on certain principles.

As a research method, pragmatics is concerned with the ways that epistemological concerns translate into research methodology and the choices of measures, researchers, and experimental conditions. It has been suggested that a pragmatic approach could potentially help to counteract the current “replication crisis” in psychology, in which numerous studies have failed to replicate previous findings (see here).

In particular, a pragmatic approach to research may encourage scholars to avoid ‘tunneling down’ their experiments to specific experimental conditions or measurements. Rather, they might aim to generate a broad set of experimental stimuli and then evaluate the general tendencies of people’s behavioral responses. It is hoped that this will enable scholars to better understand the complexity of human behavior, in order to make more informed decisions about what to study and how to do it. For more information about pragmatics, see this Wikipedia article and this Wikipedia entry.