Pragmatics and Truth
Pragmatics is the study of how human actions and thoughts are mediated by language. It looks at the implications of implied meanings, how meanings are constructed and how speakers and listeners negotiate meaning. Pragmatics is an essential component of language, because without it, we would have little understanding of what we say and mean.
This type of research is different from traditional research. Instead of using controlled studies to guide policy and practice, pragmatic studies use real-world evidence to make their decisions. These studies are also used to inform decision-makers, such as in price and reimbursement debates. In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of medicines, pragmatic trials also evaluate other kinds of interventions.
Neo-pragmatism has two main currents. The first focuses on how truth can be used in different situations. It attempts to frame truth as a light-weight concept, which does not require heavy metaphysical lifting. It focuses on the uses of truth, such as generalizations, commendations, and caution.
Pragmatic theories of truth focus on how statements are made, how they are interpreted, and what happens when they are used. These theories emphasize how people use truth when they make assertions and solve problems. Some also focus on the criteria by which truth is judged. These theories link the use of truth with usefulness and durability.
While this philosophical movement has its place, it has also reached unpragmatic extremes. A good example of this is Haack 1998. While Haack’s argument against pragmatism goes too far, Rorty & Price’s (2010) is the opposite of pragmatic. Rather than focusing on high principles, they focus on the consequences of actions.
Several objections to the pragmatic theory of truth have been made since the theory was first developed. Many of these criticisms are narrow and are raised by other pragmatic theories. In addition, some of the objections are general and challenge basic assumptions of the pragmatic theory. This section will focus on the more general objections to pragmatic theories of truth.