Campaign promises: a complicated way of producing perlocutionary effects

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The current landscape of political speech is ripe for deep philosophical analysis yet has not been thoroughly investigated through the lens of speech-act theory. In this space, I believe I

The current landscape of political speech is ripe for deep philosophical analysis yet has not been thoroughly investigated through the lens of speech-act theory. In this space, I believe I contribute something novel to the area, namely a notion of campaign promises that differs from standard promises that enables a new way of interpreting this kind of speech. Over the course of this paper, it is argued that Campaign Promises (CP) are non-trivially and philosophically distinct from the notion of Standard Promises (SP). There are many philosophical distinctions to draw, including moral, political and logical, but my focus is largely in philosophy of language. I engage the work of Searle, Austin and Wittgenstein among others to investigate what I take to be the following important differences from CP and SP: First, that CP and SP differ in the “best interest” condition, of the condition that a promise must be in the best interest of the promisee in order for that promise to obtain, which in turn, produces the effect of threatening those who do not want the promise to come about. Secondly, that CP serve to reinforce world views in a way that is non-trivially different from SP. To do this, I employ Wittgensteinian language game theory to bridge the gap between traditional Searlian speech act theory to more modern McGowan-style oppressive language models. Through this process I develop and defend this alternative way of understanding and evaluating CP and political speech.