What is Pragmatic Philosophy?

Pragmatic means “meaning in context.” It’s the ability to make sense of language in a social, cultural, or situational context. It allows you to politely hedge a request, negotiate turn-taking norms in conversation, and navigate ambiguity.

The term pragmatics was coined a century ago by William James, but the movement originated in the late 19th century in the United States (Maxcy 2003; Morgan 2014a). The founding fathers of pragmatism included Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), psychologist William James, philosopher and mathematician Chauncey Wright, and jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

How It Works

Pragmatists believe that human knowledge is constructed from socially shared experiences and is not a direct reflection of reality. All people are different, but they all share certain basic perceptions of the world. Consequently, all knowledge is a collection of socially shared beliefs, opinions, and experiences that help individuals make sense of their lives and their place in the world.

Research Methodology

Pragmatist researchers often employ a variety of methods, perspectives, and measures to answer their research questions. They take the philosophy that all knowledge is based on experience into account as they design, select, and evaluate their research methods. They also engage in reflective practices that consider the nature of their problems, potential solutions, and possible actions before they decide to proceed with research.