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Thoughts and Deeds

Language and the Practice of Political Theory

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Office of Graduate Studies

Thoughts & Deeds examines the debate surrounding the increasingly contentious role of language as both an object and method of modern political inquiry. For a growing number of scholars in political theory in particular, linguistic developments threaten to «deconstitute», to depoliticize what is and should remain a properly political field. The most popular linguistic schools of political thought - those associated with the writings of Wittgenstein and Habermas - are examined in light of these and related charges. As a way of testing both claims and criticisms, the linguistic assumptions and practices of Hobbes and Tocqueville are reconstructed and analyzed. In each case, language is revealed central to their goals of understanding, explaining and influencing political developments.
Contents: A work in the general field of contemporary political theory as affected by modern linguistics. Ordinary language analysis and universal pragmatics assessed in terms of the political linguistics of Hobbes and Tocqueville.