What Is Pragmatics?

Pragmatics is the study of language, communication and behavior. It examines the social signs, body language, and tone of voice that convey meaning to listeners. It also looks at the way a person communicates their beliefs and emotions in speech and how this affects the message that is heard.

Unlike idealists, pragmatists view reality as more than an unchanging given. Instead, they focus on how change can be directed for personal and social benefit. They were especially critical of moral and metaphysical doctrines that relegated action to the lowest level of value.

Being pragmatic means being willing to adapt to the changing realities around us. This attitude allows people to make informed decisions about the future without getting locked into certain assumptions based on past experience or current trends. It can also be helpful for navigating unfamiliar situations, such as new workplaces, social groups or relationships.

One example of pragmatism is in the decision to prioritize helping close friends and family over strangers. This can be seen in the common practice of arranged marriages, which match men and women who have similar family and work backgrounds. It’s also why a lot of people prioritize career over personal life. It’s not always a good thing to be so pragmatic, but it’s better to do what works than try and adhere to some preconceived notion of perfection that is never going to exist.

Being a pragmatist also involves acknowledging that knowledge is always partial. Some areas of human endeavor, such as science, have very little room for a definitive truth. Even a successful experiment in the lab does not necessarily prove that what was done is true. Instead, scientists often rely on the coherence theory of truth which requires that facts fit together as a coherent whole.

As a research philosophy, pragmatism also has some methodological concerns. In order to qualify as a pragmatist, a researcher must detect a socially situated problem and take adequate action in response to it. This requires an open-minded approach to research that incorporates the use of a variety of methods and tools that are flexible enough to meet the needs of the particular situation. As a result, pragmatism is often associated with abductive reasoning that moves back and forth between deduction and induction. This flexibility is also important for addressing ethical issues in research.