What Is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is a philosophy that prioritizes practical outcomes over abstract theorizing and encourages open-mindedness and flexibility when it comes to beliefs. This is beneficial in many fields, such as engineering and medicine, where real-world results are more important than theory. However, there are some drawbacks to pragmatism, including the risk of short-term gains at the expense of long-term goals and a lack of commitment to moral principles.

In the study of language, pragmatics is the branch that focuses on speakers’ communicative intentions and the ways they use language to communicate. This is different from linguistic semantics, which is focused on meaning and grammar. The underlying assumption of pragmatics is that the meaning of an utterance depends on the context in which it is spoken. The meaning of an utterance can also change over time, which is why the pragmatic approach to language is often viewed as more flexible and open-ended than other approaches.

When applied to the business world, pragmatism can help managers balance their organization’s short-term and long-term objectives. For example, if a company chooses to cut corners in the interest of increasing profits quickly, this may jeopardize the integrity of the brand and hinder future growth. Similarly, a product that addresses an urgent need but is not well-suited for the long term could fail to resonate with customers and stall sales.

The pragmatic approach to research allows for the inclusion of multiple methods and data sources in a single study. This is particularly useful for mixed-methods research, where qualitative and quantitative data are collected and integrated within a study. It also applies to collaborative research, where multiple organizations share responsibility for a project. Pragmatism provides an ideal framework for collaborative research, as it does not dictate specific methods or techniques but instead emphasizes the value of a shared purpose and a common goal.

Unlike other philosophical schools of thought that focus on metaphysical questions, pragmatism is grounded in concrete and real-world experiences. This is especially helpful in organizational research, where the ability to bridge gaps between theoretical understandings and evolving organizational practice is essential. Pragmatism also steers clear of debates about the nature of truth and reality, focusing instead on the value of actionable knowledge.

Relativism: The pragmatic approach to truth and morality can lead to relativism, where what is true depends on individual or societal preferences. This can undermine objective standards and prevent the development of universal ethical principles.

Resistance to Theory: The pragmatist view can lead to a disregard for established bodies of knowledge and theoretical frameworks, which can discourage the accumulation of new knowledge or the development of overarching explanatory models. This can be problematic in scientific research, where the integration of theories and observations is essential for progress.

A lack of Commitment to Moral Principles: Although the pragmatist viewpoint encourages open-mindedness and flexibility, it can also lead to a lack of commitment to ethical values and long-term goals. This can be problematic in the business world, where it is essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of employees, consumers, and communities.