What is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is a word often used in the same vein as “realistic” or “logical.” It’s commonly associated with decisions and actions that are sensible and grounded in reality. It’s often contrasted with idealistic, which is a more lofty and idealistic concept.

The idea behind pragmatics is that the meaning of an utterance isn’t always what the speaker says it means. Instead, it’s what the listener understands the meaning to be based on context. It takes the subtle movements, gestures, tone of voice, and body language into account that accompany the words themselves. This is why it’s important to consider not only what’s said, but how it’s said and the broader social context in which it’s spoken.

Pragmatics is a philosophy that developed in the United States during the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was popularized by philosophers John Dewey, G. Herbert Mead, and Charles Sanders Peirce, among others. Pragmatism has had significant influence on many fields, including sociology and anthropology. Its ideas are widely accepted in business, education, politics, law, and psychology.

The pragmatic theory holds that an ideology or proposition is valid if it works satisfactorily, that the value of an idea lies in its practical implications, and that unpractical ideas should be rejected. It is an alternative to idealism, which contends that there is a truth that can be discovered through pure reasoning and scientific experimentation. While pragmatism has some value, it has its flaws, especially when it comes to ethics and morality.

One of the most serious problems with pragmatism is that it collapses when applied to moral issues. It’s easy to see how the gremlin theory “works” in terms of getting results, but that’s an entirely different thing than saying it is ethically sound or morally correct. This problem with pragmatism is one reason that it’s not very popular outside of the field of philosophy.

Another major issue with pragmatism is that it’s too closely related to relativism. It’s very difficult to apply a philosophical principle that values only what works and ignores all the rest to ethical and moral issues like slavery, murder, and war. Ultimately, this makes pragmatism more of a form of relativism than a true philosophical movement.