Charles Sanders Peirce实用主义是事实上的创始，其继承人主要是二十世纪的William James和John Dewey。此后，60年代的W. V. O. Quine和Wilfrid Sellars用一种改进的实用主义批判了逻辑实证主义（Logic Positivism），实用主义重新受到了关注。两者的学说也启发了其中一支--新实用主义（neopragmatism）的产生，其代表人物 Richard Rorty是二十世纪末最著名的实用主义学家 （以及 Hilary Putnam和Robert Brandom）。当代实用主义则大体分化为两支-严格的传统分析哲学，和新古典实用主义（neo-classical pragmatism）（代表：Susan Haack）
反观点与理论的物化 （Anti-reification of concepts and theories） Dewey, 在他的《The Quest For Certainty》中批评道他所谓的“哲学谬误”：哲学家经常把分类（如心理的和物理的）视为理所当然，是因为他们没有意识到这些仅仅是用以帮助解决实际问题而发明的名义上的概念。这种(错误）导致了形而上的和理念的混淆。突出的例子比如黑格尔哲学家们的“终极存在（ultimate Being）”，对“价值界限（realm of value）”的信仰，有关逻辑无关具象思维的行为本身的观点（因为它是具象思维的一种抽象），等等。David L. Hildebrand 总结道“Perceptual inattention to the specific functions comprising inquiry led realists and idealists alike to formulate accounts of knowledge that project the products of extensive abstraction back onto experience”。
自然主义和反笛卡尔主义 （Naturalism and anti-Cartesianism）
对可误论和反怀疑主义的调和（Reconciliation of anti-skepticism and fallibilism）
真理以及认识论的实用主义解释（Pragmatist theory of truth and epistemology）
Charles Sanders Peirce 1839–1914 was the founder of American pragmatism (later called by Peirce pragmaticism). He wrote on a wide range of topics, from mathematical logic and semiotics to psychology.
William James 1842–1910 influential psychologist and theorist of religion, as well as philosopher. First to be widely associated with the term "pragmatism" due to Peirce's lifelong unpopularity.
John Dewey 1859–1952 prominent philosopher of education, referred to his brand of pragmatism as instrumentalism.
F.C.S. Schiller 1864–1937 one of the most important pragmatists of his time, Schiller is largely forgotten today.
George Herbert Mead 1863–1931 philosopher and sociological social psychologist.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803–1882 the American protopragmatist, Transcendentalist, and noted Rhetorician.
Josiah Royce 1855–1916 colleague of James at Harvard who employed pragmatism in an idealist metaphysical framework, he was particularly interested in the philosophy of religion and community; his work is often associated with neo-Hegelianism.
George Santayana 1863–1952 although he eschewed the label "pragmatism" and called it a "heresy", several critics argue that he applied pragmatist methodologies to naturalism, especially in his early masterwork, The Life of Reason.
W. E. B. Du Bois 1868–1963 student of James at Harvard who applied pragmatist principles to his sociological work, especially in The Philadelphia Negro and Atlanta University Studies.
Giovanni Papini 1881–1956 Italian essayist, mostly known because James occasionally mentioned him.
Giovanni Vailati 1863–1909 Italian analytic and pragmatist philosopher.
Hu Shi 1891–1962 Chinese intellectual and reformer, student and translator of Dewey's and advocate of pragmatism in China.
Reinhold Niebuhr 1892–1971 American Philosopher and Theologian, inserted Pragmatism into his theory of Christian Realism.
Sidney Hook 1902–1989 a prominent New York intellectual and philosopher, a student of Dewey at Columbia.
Isaac Levi 1930– seeks to apply pragmatist thinking in a decision-theoretic perspective.
Susan Haack 1945– teaches at the University of Miami, sometimes called the intellectual granddaughter of C.S. Peirce, known chiefly for foundherentism.
Nicholas Rescher 1928– advocates a methodological pragmatism that sees functional efficacy as evidentiating validity.
Richard J. Bernstein 1932– Author of Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis, The New Constellation: The Ethical-Political Horizons of Modernity/Postmodernity, The Pragmatic Turn
F. Thomas Burke 1950– Author of What Pragmatism Was (2013), Dewey's New Logic (1994). His work interprets contemporary philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic through the lens of classical American pragmatism.
Arthur Fine 1937– Philosopher of Science who proposed the Natural Ontological Attitude to the debate of scientific realism.
Stanley Fish 1938– Literary and Legal Studies pragmatist. Criticizes Rorty's and Posner's legal theories as "almost pragmatism" and authored the afterword in the collection The Revival of Pragmatism.
John Hawthorne Defends a pragmatist form of contextualism to deal with the lottery paradox in his Knowledge and Lotteries.
Clarence Irving Lewis 1883–1964
Joseph Margolis 1924– still proudly defends the original Pragmatists and sees his recent work on Cultural Realism as extending and deepening their insights, especially the contribution of Peirce and Dewey, in the context of a rapprochement with Continental philosophy.
Hilary Putnam 1926– in many ways the opposite of Rorty and thinks classical pragmatism was too permissive a theory.
Richard Rorty 1931–2007 famous author of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.
Willard van Orman Quine 1908–2000 pragmatist philosopher, concerned with language, logic, and philosophy of mathematics.
Roberto Unger 1947– in The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound, advocates for a "radical pragmatism," one that 'de-naturalizes' society and culture, and thus insists that we can "transform the character of our relation to social and cultural worlds we inhabit rather than just to change, little by little, the content of the arrangements and beliefs that comprise them."
Mike Sandbothe 1961– Applied Rorty's neopragmatism to media studies and developed a new branch that he called Media Philosophy. Together with authors such as Juergen Habermas, Hans Joas, Sami Pihlstroem, Mats Bergmann, Michael Esfeld, and Helmut Pape, he belongs to a group of European Pragmatists who make use of Peirce, James, Dewey, Rorty, Brandom, Putnam, and other representatives of American pragmatism in continental philosophy.
Richard Shusterman philosopher of art.
Jason Stanley 1969– Defends a pragmatist form of contextualism against semantic varieties of contextualism in his Knowledge and Practical Interest.
Robert B. Talisse 1970– defends an epistemological conception of democratic politics that is explicitly opposed to Deweyan democracy and yet rooted in a conception of social epistemology that derives from the pragmatism of Charles Peirce. His work in argumentation theory and informal logic also demonstrates pragmatist leanings.
Stephen Toulmin 1922–2009 student of Wittgenstein, known especially for his The Uses of Argument.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 1841–1935 justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Stephen Breyer 1938– U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.
Richard Posner 1939– Judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Cornel West 1953– thinker on race, politics, and religion; operates under the sign of "prophetic pragmatism".
Wilfrid Sellars 1912–1989 broad thinker, attacked foundationalism in the analytic tradition.
Frank P. Ramsey 1903–1930 author of the philosophical work Universals.
Karl-Otto Apel 1922– author of "Charles S. Peirce: From Pragmatism to Pragmaticism (1981)"
Randolph Bourne 1886–1918 author of the 1917 pragmatist anti-war essay "Twilight of Idols"
C. Wright Mills 1916–1962; author of Sociology and Pragmatism: the Higher Learning in America and was a commentator on Dewey.
Jürgen Habermas 1929– author of "What is Universal Pragmatics?"
- 新田義弘ほか編 『分析哲学とプラグマティズム』第7巻、岩波書店〈岩波講座現代思想〉、1994年。ISBN 978-4000105378。
- 鶴見俊輔 『アメリカ哲学』 こぶし書房〈こぶし文庫-戦後日本思想の原点〉、2008年。ISBN 978-4875592259。