The Philosophy of Pragmatics

Pragmatics is the study of the practical aspects of human action and thought. It focuses on meaning potential instead of linguistic form or literal meaning and considers how language is used in interaction between speakers. It also focuses on implied meanings.

The philosophy of pragmatism is a major influence on many applied disciplines including public administration, management, leadership studies, education and research methodology. Many pragmatists are well-known within their fields and have made significant contributions to their respective fields of inquiry.

Unlike analytic and continental approaches, pragmatism provides a third alternative to these two established philosophical traditions and is now present in universities worldwide (Brandom 2011). Its origins are in American philosophy and largely date back to the so-called Metaphysical Club, which included Peirce, James and other philosophers, psychologists and lawyers. This group had a strong impact on American intellectual life from the 1870s to 1920 and left behind an extensive legacy of writing that continues to influence scholars today.

Peirce was a polymath who developed a number of different theories and methods for understanding how people use language in communication and how language works. He developed a concept called the pragmatic maxim, which states that meaning in an utterance is determined by how it is used in a context and not the precise grammatical form of the words themselves. The maxim is the foundation of pragmatism and is an important part of pragmatics.

A key idea in pragmatism is the notion of truth and reality as social constructs and that knowledge is constructed through experience rather than by direct observation. This approach has been embraced by a broad range of academics, from sociologists and political scientists to historians and economists.

The philosophical movement of pragmatism has also had an international reach and has become particularly popular in countries such as Australia, South Africa and Scandinavia. Increasingly, it is being practiced in the United States as a counter to analytic and continental philosophies and is currently the focus of a renewed interest among many scholars.

In the classroom, pragmatism is often used to teach English as a second language, as it provides an opportunity for students to experiment with various ways to express themselves in a foreign language and develop their pragmatic competence. It can also be used to introduce students to the ways that cultures differ in their use of language and how this impacts their interactions with one another.

In the field of education, pragmatism can be used to encourage teachers and administrators to be flexible in their teaching and learning and to focus on student needs. It can also be used to integrate qualitative and quantitative research methodologies when studying complex organizational processes such as performance management and evaluation. (Onwuegbuzie and Leech 2005). For example, a researcher might include both an interview schedule and a survey to gather data and gain an overview of the performance of an organization. The resulting overview would be the basis of a report.