Pragmatics is the study of how words and language are used. It is a field of linguistics that spans across the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. As an area of linguistics, pragmatics concentrates on how people use language to achieve different goals.
A pragmatic is someone who is focused on a goal, and is not distracted by emotion. Typically, this means that pragmatists are considered sensible and concerned with facts rather than their own ideals. The term pragmatist is often used in reference to politicians. But it also applies to adults who can develop good communication skills and use language in social settings.
One of the major frameworks of pragmatics is relevance theory. Relevance theory asserts that each utterance should convey enough relevant information. Using the example of an everyday greeting, a person may greet another person by saying “Hello,” but there is a lack of detail in the response. Rather than simply saying “Hello,” a person might say something like “I’m happy to see you,” changing the meaning to “I’m glad to see you.”
Linguists studying the philosophy of language have agreed on the following point of view: that language is a kind of human action. They have also endorsed the idea that language is a specialized form of human cognition.
As a discipline, pragmatics considers the role of language in interaction, particularly in determining the meaning of a sign. Specifically, it focuses on the relationships between signs, the listener, and the speaker. This includes context with a sign, the speaker’s intentions, and listener inferences. In addition, pragmatics examines the implied meanings of an utterance, the significance of a sign, and the construction of the word.
Although pragmatics is a sub-discipline within linguistics, it can be compared to semiotics, which focuses on how a sign is used in a particular context. For instance, an escalator sign may be linguistically ambiguous, but a listener will be able to track syntactic clues and understand the meaning of the escalator as an indication that the person is going up a hill.
Truth is a light-weight concept, which does not require much metaphysical lifting. Neo-pragmatism, for example, criticizes the tendency to treat truth as a commendation or as a signal that the person is being appreciated. Instead, it argues that truth is a tool that helps us accomplish practical tasks.
There are two main currents in the late twentieth century neo-pragmatism. The first approach flirts with relativism, while the second emphasizes a full-fledged theory of truth.
Earlier approaches were based on the work of Peirce, Dewey, and James. These philosophers framed truth in terms of assertion, warranted assertibility, and verification. Ultimately, these theories have shifted to focus on the justification project and speech-act projects.
Neo-pragmatism, on the other hand, views science as a model for human solidarity and no more objective than other disciplines. Despite this, neo-pragmatism has not yet produced a full-fledged theory of true. That said, its main criticisms are that truth is only useful when it serves a mundane purpose, that science cannot be fully objective, and that there is no scientific way to verify truth.