Language, games and language games

Mihnea Moldoveanu
2002 The Journal of Socio-Economics  
How do social values come about and gain legitimacy? Starting from the premise that discourses of social analysis affect the ways in which social norms develop and proliferate, this article models the evolution of professional codes and dialects using Wittgenstein's idea of a language game. A language game is formalized as a repeated game of tacit coordination played among participants with informational asymmetries. The informational asymmetries model the different meanings that people assign
more » ... o the same word used in a conversation. A language is formalized as a code that emerges as a result of repeated interactions in a language game. The paper argues that certain codes-such as those based on the real number system-lead to more reliable strategies in language games. The result is used to argue that professional dialects based on axiomatizable codes-such as physics, mathematics and economicsare less likely to experience fragmentation into intra-disciplinary 'sects,' camps and incommensurable paradigms than are professional dialects that are not based on an axiomatizable code-such as sociology, psychology, organization studies, and strategic management studies. The idea of a language game is extended to explore ways in which certain disciplines can establish cognitive jurisdiction over particular phenomena, starting from a particular set of codes, and thereby claim 'cognitive monopolies.' A rudimentary theory of the market for ideas is advanced.
doi:10.1016/s1053-5357(02)00118-x fatcat:dzh5s2b5cnfqzofaay54rhegy4