From a speech act towards a language game
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From a speech act towards a language game book
Introduction Building on previous discussions, this chapter outlines Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work on language games as an alternative angle for examining how security is spoken in theory and practice. By way of reference to the title, this moves us away from a focus on speech acts towards the larger language games of security that are in play. It is necessary to specify up front that Wittgenstein was not an IR scholar, but a philosopher interested in language and meaning. Thus, bringing his discussions to a different academic domain requires some conceptual adaptation since he does not provide a theory that can be neatly applied. Important inroads have been made to show the contribution of incorporating Wittgenstein’s language game approach into to the discipline of International Relations (Duffy et al. 1998; Fierke 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2007a, 2007b, 2009; Kratochwil 1987, 1989, 2000a, 2006; Mulligan 2004, 2006; Onuf 1989, 1998, 2003). This discussion contributes to that line of work by juxtaposing the Copenhagen School’s speech act theory with that of a language game. Integrating Wittgenstein’s work into ongoing debates about securitization also lays out a framework for beginning to think more seriously about exploring not only about how agents speak security, but also how they put these rules of engagement into play within certain contexts. We begin with a synopsis of Wittgenstein’s later writings of a language game. Doing so sketches out the importance of analyzing “meanings in use” and understanding language as a “form of life.” Following on from there the next section unpacks the range of rules outlined in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of a language game. Here, particular attention is given to the distinction he draws between rule-following and rule-breaking on the one hand and an act of interpretation on the other as a way to link language and legitimacy together in nuanced ways. The third section sets out to integrate Wittgenstein’s conception of a language game into the securitization debates outlined in Chapter 2. This is beneficial for two distinct reasons. First, adopting a Wittgensteinian lens veers us away from the speech act as the main mode of action. Second, his idea of “meanings in use” is advocated as a more sophisticated building block to explore the kind of rules that are available within a language game of security, especially a securitized
one. Drawing on the theoretical insights, the chapter revisits the empirical case study. Following Wittgenstein, the goal is to “look and see” what language games the Bush administration constructed to legitimize their foreign policy for the Iraq War. Taking this as the starting point illuminates the complex way in which overlapping and interfacing structures of meaning were woven together within the Bush administrations justifications for the Iraq War. An awareness of these points of intersection carves out a space to explore how the Bush administration not only followed rules but also how they redefined them. The final section brings the main arguments of this chapter together by raising further questions about the relationship between language and legitimacy, or, more particularly, what language legitimates. These themes will be given greater attention in Chapter 4. What happened in Abu Ghraib in the name of security provides a stark reminder of why it is necessary to examine and perhaps revise the way in which we speak security.