In the field of philosophy there are several important currents , each with its respective representative. Since time immemorial, the human being has been asking a series of questions related to the origin of existence , knowledge and truth . Philosophy has been divided into branches that try to find answers to these questions. One of these branches is pragmatism , a philosophical movement that places importance on practical value .

What is pragmatism?

Pragmatism is a type of philosophical movement of American origin that gives importance only to what has practical value and that takes into account the value of things from the point of view of consequences .

  • Definition of pragmatism
  • Etymology
  • features
  • History
  • Founder
  • Types
  • Postulates
  • Contributions
  • North American Pragmatism
  • Linguistic Pragmatism
  • Pragmatism in psychology
  • Social pragmatism
  • Ethical Pragmatism
  • Advantage
  • Disadvantages
  • How it differs from utilitarianism
  • Importance
  • critics
  • Representatives
  • Examples of Pragmatism in Everyday Life

Definition of pragmatism

Pragmatism can be defined as a type of personal attitude and thinking in which only things that have value in terms of function and usefulness are taken into account. It is a type of thinking that takes into account the useful and that also considers that the truth of knowledge is in the practical value that can be given to life.


The word pragmatism comes from the English language, specifically from the word ” pragmatism ” and from the Greek language , from the words πρᾶγμα and ατος prâgma, atos that mean action or occupation , business .


Among its main features are the following:

  • Defend philosophical and scientific knowledge applied to practical consequences.
  • It is directly influenced by Darwinian theory .
  • Use ideas from English utilitarianism .
  • It does not attach importance to substance or essence, but rather to practical results .
  • Establishes that experience is the process through which important information can be obtained to satisfy needs.
  • It is seen as a type of empiricism .
  • It is associated with practicality and utility .


This philosophical movement had its beginnings formally in the year 1870 in the United States . In 1970, thanks to Robert Brandom , Philip Kitcher and How Price, the movement gained greater popularity. These last representatives are considered as the precursors of modern or neoclassical pragmatism .


The founders of pragmatism were Charles Sanders Peirce (considered the father of pragmatism ), William James, and John Dewey .


There are two main types of pragmatism:

  • Philosophical realism : for this movement society is more important and the way in which it can constitute and control all the processes of the mind in individuals.
  • Nominalist Pragmatism : sees men as the main actors who act with freedom to accept, reject, change or define roles, rules, laws, norms and beliefs.


The postulates of pragmatism are the following:

  • The truth : in pragmatism, practical results are more important than absolute truth. It is not necessary to know metaphysical truths but rather to produce tools that can be used to achieve a better adaptation.
  • The experience : a questioning is made about cognition and experience since the latter is a process through which it is possible to obtain information that later helps to know what the main needs are.
  • Research : pragmatism tells us that it is not important to demonstrate the way in which knowledge is acquired, but rather to work on methods to investigate the ideas that promote progress.


Some of the most important contributions of pragmatism are the following:

  • It has been pointed out through pragmatism that man has the capacity to be able to transform things, to make them transcendental , to rebuild them and to be able to transform them.
  • In the field of education, he succeeded in establishing learning through experience .
  • It gives more importance to people and the way they see the world.
  • It gives a greater contribution to the field of linguistics where it establishes that words go beyond the simple meaning that expressions have.
  • It is possible to establish a consideration of language as a more human type of activity.

North American Pragmatism

This current maintains that the meaning of things and the truth is a function of the practical result. It is the conviction that the principles should be considered as a type of working hypothesis . He had a strong influence during the first part of the 20th century and has criticized the different traditional philosophical concepts within the evolution of science and society.

Linguistic Pragmatism

It is a current that gives greater importance to the context in which the words are used and the meaning they acquire from that moment on. It also explains that depending on the way and the place in which it is spoken, this will be the meaning of the phrases and words that are mentioned. It gives greater importance to the activity so that through experience learning is achieved .

Pragmatism in psychology

It focuses on functionalism , a current that considers human behavior from the point of view of adaptation to the environment . Its bases were focused on the structuralism of the mind and the eradication of its functions.

Social pragmatism

In the field of sociology, pragmatism tries to establish the relationships that exist with social science , man and society.

Ethical Pragmatism

He sees no difference between the reason of such practice and theory , between facts and values. In ethics, all facts and values have a cognitive content and that is why it establishes that knowledge is all that is to be believed and that values ​​are a type of hypothesis regarding what is good. It is a humanistic movement that places importance on good values ​​based on good reasons.


Among its main advantages are the following:

  • Ideas for faster and more efficient problem solving can be built by taking into account your needs and materials .
  • Through the application of pragmatism, a better and greater experience can be obtained .
  • You can use ideas , and techniques new to rethink the knowledge they already have.
  • It manages to establish what the true needs of man are.


Among the main disadvantages that are mentioned of pragmatism we have the following:

  • It is a method that does not follow the principles related to order , regularity and schematization .
  • It does not follow any kind of rules or established patterns for problem solving.
  • It does not have a basis or support related to things that have been previously resolved.
  • It does not allow the use of creativity .
  • It focuses only on the place or situation that needs to be resolved.
  • It does not commit to systems of philosophy and reality .

How it differs from utilitarianism

The utilitarianism gives importance to the intensity of the pleasure , the quality of it and puts as an important part of the intensity of the pleasure intellectual and moral to the material thus promoting the superiority of goods , for this is moving more important to get goods to thus harmonize the interests of individuals in society. The pragmatism , completely denies the existence of values and moral standards as for the movement of moral conduct must be designed primarily to provide suitable solutions to problems in order to achieve success and thus, satisfy the desires and interests of man.


Pragmatism is considered important because it places human thought within the natural order in which things happen, thus giving it a forward trajectory, improving analytical philosophy . It also relates the meaning of the evidence to knowledge. From a sociological and political point of view , it is also a very important current as it has established the way in which messages can be interpreted.


One of the main criticisms made of pragmatism is that it only uses methods to achieve objectives but does not give importance to the means , only to the end that is pursued. As it has many empirical bases, it is considered more as an experience of an individual and not a social type, so the projects that are carried out using it cannot be established in the long term. In addition, it has a large number of different approaches which makes it fall into utilitarianism , relativism and materialism while contradicting the theory itself.


The representatives of pragmatism were:

  • Charles Peirce – an American-born mathematician, logician, and philosopher considered the founder of thought. Interpret thought from the point of view of control and operation, associating knowledge with action and purposes.
  • Schiller : a pragmatist of English origin who saw the truth as a creation of the human being while declaring human knowledge as something subjective. Reality for him was a group of experiences that subordinated the action of man.
  • William James : For him, science was only true when it became useful. The utility was to be able to satisfy the material needs in order to achieve the development of the human being within society.

Examples of Pragmatism in Everyday Life

Some examples of pragmatism that can be observed on a daily basis are mentioned below:

  • The attitude that people take towards problems and the way in which they manage to solve them.
  • Conducting experiments starting from a specific theory.
  • The proper resolution of everyday problems.
  • When a small or large company is on the verge of bankruptcy and they decide to reinvent themselves to save their business.
  • Government plans that try to repair the damage that previous governments have caused.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *