What is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic is a word that gets used often to describe people who are able to keep their emotions in check and make clear, calm decisions under pressure. They’re able to take the big picture in mind but then go about tackling problems practically one step at a time. This is the kind of pragmatic person we all want to be!

But how do you actually become more pragmatic? And is pragmatic the same as being logical or dogmatic? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be pragmatic and how it relates to philosophy and other aspects of our daily lives.

Classical Pragmatism

The classical pragmatists like James, Dewey, and Peirce had an influence over the birth of American public administration and other fields that deal with day-to-day problem solving. These fields have incorporated many of the tenets of pragmatism into their research and practice, such as Dewey’s democratic ideals, James’ theory of action, and the practicality of pragmatist thinking.

Unlike the more analytical approach to philosophical thought that characterizes analytic philosophy, pragmatists are more interested in how something works rather than what it means or how true it is. This pragmatic view can sometimes be seen as a more casual and less rigorous approach to philosophy but it also has its advantages.

It may not always lead to the most precise or pristine answers but it does have the benefit of being easy to apply and follow. The pragmatic approach is also very useful in the real world because it encourages an open-minded, flexible mindset that can be used for problem-solving and decision-making. It’s a philosophy that encourages us to be less judgmental and more inclusive of others.

The term pragmatic can also be applied to the way we communicate with each other. The field of pragmatics (or utterance pragmatics) was first developed as a subfield of semantics in the 1930s and is concerned with the construction of meaning within language. It considers the relationships of words, people, and context to be more important than the individual meanings of each word.

While pragmatism has been associated with various views on truth, there are two main approaches to this concept that have emerged among the neo-pragmatists, both of which have been criticized as flirting with relativism or realism. The first, influenced by Rorty, tends to emphasize the functional role of truth in certain contexts. The second, influenced by William James and Charles Sanders Peirce, tends toward natural realism. Natural realism is an alternative to the correspondence theory of truth that has been traditionally held in philosophy. It holds that not all truths “correspond” to a state of affairs and even those that do, such as empirical statements, don’t always correspond in the same way.