Pragmatic Philosophy


Pragmatic is a philosophical movement that emphasizes the use of words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving and action. It argues that most philosophy topics–such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief and science–are best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes.

Classic pragmatists such as John Dewey, William James and Charles Sanders Peirce were American philosophers who were concerned with making philosophy more relevant to everyday life. They wanted to reform philosophy so that it would be more closely aligned with the scientific method as they understood it. They criticized idealist and realist philosophy for presenting human knowledge as something beyond what science could explain, and they questioned correspondence theories of knowledge and truth as a priori.

Near-side pragmatics is a branch of pragmatics that deals with the linguistic interpretation of utterances in their context. It is often categorized with semantics and it has roots in the work of Frege and Russell, particularly their ideas about contextualism and the role of relevance in the determination of what is said.

Some of the main branches of near-side pragmatics are lexical and grammatical aspects of utterance interpretation, ellipsis, anaphoric pronouns, indexicals and demonstratives, and some issues concerning presupposition, all within the scope of a classical view of a “linguistic” approach to utterance interpretation. It also has a strong connection with contemporary logical and cognitive linguistics, as well as the philosophy of conversation.

The concept of “context” is one of the most important topics in pragmatics, as it has a number of distinct conceptual aspects. In a broad sense it is the situation in which the linguistic context of an utterance interacts with the linguistic and non-linguistic circumstances of a particular utterance, such as background information about the speaker or an utterance’s previous utterances.