Pragmatic Philosophy of Knowledge
Pragmatic is an approach to knowledge that emphasizes the connection between thought and action. Many fields like public administration, leadership studies, political science, and conflict resolution have incorporated pragmatism into their research methodologies. This philosophy of knowledge also has implications for understanding the way in which people interact with the world around them. The term pragmatic is often used as a synonym for reasonable and practical.
Pragmatism was originally developed by a group of scholars known as the Chicago School. These scholars rejected many traditional assumptions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and inquiry. They also adopted a broad range of philosophical influences, including Dewey, Addams, Peirce, and Quine. Their ideas have since spread to other disciplines, and the philosophy of pragmatism is now well-established in areas as diverse as law and education.
One key tenet of pragmatism is that the most useful knowledge is contextual, and the most valuable way to acquire it is through experience. This reflects the philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce, who developed the notion that inquiry depends on real doubt. He argued that the only way to achieve real doubt is by examining the implications of an idea. This leads to the pragmatic maxim, which states that an object’s true conception is its practical effects.
The other central tenet of pragmatism involves the principle that existence is in a state of becoming, and it is through action that this becomes manifested. The pragmatists were most critical of metaphysical doctrines in which change and action are relegated to a secondary position. They also emphasized the importance of human agency in controlling the world and directing it for social justice.
Unlike the other branches of linguistic study, such as semantics, syntax, and semiotics, pragmatics is focused on speakers’ communicative intentions and how these are determined by the physical or social contexts in which they use language. For example, a speaker’s intention may be to make clear to an audience that they have completed a task. This is the kind of intention that can be assessed by listeners through an approach to pragmatics called relevance theory.
Another area of pragmatism is the application of concepts from the philosophy of science, particularly radical empiricism. This approach seeks answers to questions about the limits of scientific methodology, the nature of knowledge and value, and the workability of reductionism. It has been criticized by some scholars for its emphasis on a kind of epistemological relativism.
Other critics of pragmatics point out that it neglects certain important aspects of the social sciences, and that it fails to acknowledge that social life is not a series of isolated, unconnected events. Nevertheless, it remains the philosophy of choice for many in the field of social work and other social justice-oriented professions. The pragmatic approach to inquiry has influenced several other research paradigms, including constructivism and interpretivism. These paradigms share the goal of producing useful knowledge that can be applied to improve social conditions.