What is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is the study of language use and context. It deals with the question of what meanings a speaker intends to convey by their words, and how these intentions are influenced by the speaker’s and hearers’ social context. It is often distinguished from semantics, which is the study of the relations between sentences and the propositions they express.

It is also sometimes contrasted with logical pragmatics, which studies the logic of language and its rules for expressing concepts. However, many linguistic pragmaticists do not see logical pragmatics as a distinct discipline and instead regard it as an important sub-field of linguistics, along with semantics, phonology, and syntax.

A number of liberatory philosophical projects, including feminism (Seigfried 1996), ecology (Alexander 2013) and Native American philosophy (Pratt 2002), look to the pragmatist tradition as their philosophical home. Similarly, many of the analytic philosophers who reject realism and have sought to criticise mainstream epistemology also see the pragmatist tradition as their natural philosophical home.

In recent decades, a revived interest in Peirce and James has spawned various developments of pragmatism. These are typically characterised by a rejection of skepticism, a willingness to embrace fallibilism, and a rejection of sharp dichotomies such as those between fact and value, truth and falsehood, thought and experience etc. A central aim of these newer pragmatists is to rehabilitate classical pragmatism’s ideals of objectivity, whilst taking on board criticisms of that tradition from Rorty and others (e.g. Putnam, Brandom and Huw Price).

Some people have a knack for making clear-headed decisions in the face of crisis. This is often credited to their pragmatic nature, which allows them to stay grounded in reality and think logically rather than be swayed by heightened emotions or big-picture ideals. Other people, on the other hand, can be described as dogmatic in their thinking and make decisions based on rigid morals.

A person who is pragmatic tends to focus on the results of their actions and matters of fact while a dogmatic person sticks by their beliefs regardless of the consequences. This can be a good thing in some situations but in others it can be detrimental, such as when being pragmatic means that you aren’t flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. This is a key reason why it’s important to consider your own pragmatic style when choosing a career. Then you can decide if being pragmatic is really the right fit for you. If not, it might be time to consider a change.