Pragmatics is the study of how people use language in both literal and nonliteral ways. It is different from the studies of semantics, syntax, and semiotics, which focus on how we understand the meaning of linguistic expressions.
The origin of pragmatism dates back to discussions held in the Metaphysical Club of Harvard around 1870, during which Charles Sanders Peirce and William James developed their ideas about how to clarify concepts and hypotheses by applying principles that maximize human utility. They formulated these ideas in their publications from the 1870s, and they achieved prominence through public lectures given by James in 1898.
A pragmatist is someone who is not afraid to drop an old idea when it loses its usefulness, or to adopt new ones as they become more useful in the real world. A pragmatist is also open to the idea that some truths are partial and that they may be false in the long run.
Pragmatic theory is a branch of experimental psychology that studies how we communicate with others and what factors determine the meaning of utterances. It is an interdisciplinary field that overlaps with other areas of cognitive science, such as psychology and linguistics. However, because of the complex nature of a pragmatic theory, it is difficult to establish clear standards for its testing and replication. It is also difficult to assess and measure how a theory translates from the laboratory to the social realm.