published on September 1, 2022
Pragmatism, Language Games, and the Philippine Drug War
This article explores the claim that how we talk can inspire how we reason and act. Contemporary research suggests that the words militant Christian leaders in the Philippines use shape how they rationalize President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Describing drug users as “sinners,” a trope in religious language, is particularly lethal. Using work on pragmatism and philosophy of language by Richard Rorty, Robert Brandom, and Lynne Tirrell, the author examines how the term “sinner” generates pernicious claims in the drug war. It explores how the use of the term inspires hermeneutic uptake, redirects discursive focus, and engenders certain social and political actions in the Philippines.