Topics: Pragmatism


Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected. Pragmatism, in William James' eyes, was that the truth of an idea needed to be tested to prove its validity. Pragmatism began in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce and his pragmatic maxim. Through the early twentieth-century it was developed further in the works of William James, John Dewey and—in a more unorthodox manner—by George Santayana. Other important aspects of pragmatism include anti-Cartesianism, radical empiricism, instrumentalism, anti-realism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, a denial of the fact-value distinction, a high regard for science, and fallibilism.

Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention from the 1960s on when a new analytic school of philosophy (W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars) put forth a revised pragmatism criticizing the logical positivism dominant in the United States and Britain since the 1930s. Richard Rorty further developed and widely publicized the concept of naturalized epistemology; his later work grew closer to continental philosophy and is considered relativistic by its critics.

Contemporary pragmatism is divided into a strict analytic tradition, a more relativistic strand (in the wake of Rorty), and "neo-classical" pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey.


Pragmatism as a philosophical movement began in the United States in the late 1800s. Its overall direction was determined by the thought and works of Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced /Ë

Charles Peirce: the American polymath who first identified pragmatism.