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  1. Engineering Social Concepts: Labels and the Science of Categorization.Eleonore Neufeld - manuscript
    One of the core insights from Eleanor Rosch’s work on categorization is that human categorization isn’t arbitrary. Instead, two psychological principles constrain possible systems of classification for all human cultures. According to these principles, the task of a category system is to provide maximum information with the least cognitive effort, and the perceived world provides us with structured rather than arbitrary features. In this paper, I show that Rosch's insights give us important resources for making progress on the 'feasibility question' (...)
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  • A rich-lexicon theory of slurs and their uses.Dan Zeman - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):942-966.
    ABSTRACT In this paper, I present data involving the use of the Romanian slur ‘țigan’, consideration of which leads to the postulation of a sui-generis, irreducible type of use of slurs. This type of use is potentially problematic for extant theories of slurs. In addition, together with other well-established uses, it shows that there is more variation in the use of slurs than previously acknowledged. I explain this variation by construing slurs as polysemous. To implement this idea, I appeal to (...)
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  • Generic inferential rules for slurs and contrasting senses.Pasi Valtonen - 2022 - Theoria 88 (5):1037-1052.
    This article offers a new perspective on the relationship between slurring terms and their neutral counterparts with an inferentialist view of slurs. I argue that slurs and their counterparts are coextensional with contrasting senses. Crucially, the proposed inferentialist view overcomes the combination of two challenges: Kaplanian inferences and the substitution argument. The previous views cannot account for both of them.
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  • Inescapable articulations: Vessels of lexical effects.Una Stojnić & Ernie Lepore - 2021 - Noûs 56 (3):742-760.
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  • Slurs as ballistic speech.Richard P. Stillman - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6827-6843.
    Slurs are words with a well-known tendency to conjure up painful memories and experiences in members of their target communities. Owing to this tendency, it’s widely agreed that one ought to exercise considerable care when even mentioning a slur, so as to avoid needlessly inflicting distressing associations on members of the relevant group. This paper argues that this tendency to evoke distressing associations is precisely what makes slurs impactful verbal weapons. According to the ballistic theory, slurs make such potent insults (...)
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  • Essentializing Inferences.Katherine Ritchie - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (4):570-591.
    Predicate nominals (e.g., “is a female”) seem to label or categorize their subjects, while their adjectival correlates (e.g., “is female”) merely attribute a property. Predicate nominals also elicit essentializing inferential judgments about inductive potential and stable explanatory membership. Data from psychology and semantics support that this distinction is robust and productive. I argue that while the difference between predicate nominals and predicate adjectives is elided by standard semantic theories, it ought not be. I then develop and defend a psychologically motivated (...)
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  • Pornography and Dehumanization: The Essentialist Dimension.Eleonore Neufeld - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):703-717.
    The objective of this paper is to show that pornography dehumanizes women through essentialization. First, I argue that certain acts of subject-essentialization are acts of subject-dehumanization. Second, I demonstrate, by reviewing evidence about the linguistic material that we find in and around pornography, that pornography systematically deploys content that essentializes women in the ways identified as problematic. It follows that pornography dehumanizes women.
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  • Psychological Essentialism and the Structure of Concepts.Eleonore Neufeld - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (5):e12823.
    Psychological essentialism is the hypothesis that humans represent some categories as having an underlying essence that unifies members of a category and is causally responsible for their typical attributes and behaviors. Throughout the past several decades, psychological essentialism has emerged as an extremely active area of research in cognitive science. More recently, it has also attracted attention from philosophers, who put the empirical results to use in many different philosophical areas, ranging from philosophy of mind and cognitive science to social (...)
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  • Casting a Vote for Subordination Using a Slur.Duckkyun Lee - 2023 - The Pluralist 18 (3):37-58.
    In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Casting a Vote for Subordination Using a SlurDuckkyun Lee1. IntroductionIn this paper, I develop an account of slurs focusing on their two underappreciated features. The first underappreciated feature is what I call their "communal nature." Slurs are communal. The meaning of a slur depends on the existence of a significant number of people who are bigoted against the target. When this condition is not satisfied, a slur loses its (...)
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  • Normative Inference Tickets.Jen Foster & Jonathan Ichikawa - 2023 - Episteme:1-27.
    We argue that stereotypes associated with concepts like he-said–she-said, conspiracy theory, sexual harassment, and those expressed by paradigmatic slurs provide “normative inference tickets”: conceptual permissions to automatic, largely unreflective normative conclusions. These “mental shortcuts” are underwritten by associated stereotypes. Because stereotypes admit of exceptions, normative inference tickets are highly flexible and productive, but also liable to create serious epistemic and moral harms. Epistemically, many are unreliable, yielding false beliefs which resist counterexample; morally, many perpetuate bigotry and oppression. Still, some normative (...)
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  • Slurs, neutral counterparts, and what you could have said.Arianna Falbo - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):359-375.
    Recent pragmatic accounts of slurs argue that the offensiveness of slurs is generated by a speaker's free choice to use a slur opposed to a more appropriate and semantically equivalent neutral counterpart. I argue that the theoretical role of neutral counterparts on such views is overstated. I consider two recent pragmatic analyses, Bolinger (Noûs, 51, 2017, 439) and Nunberg (New work on speech acts, Oxford University Press, 2018), which rely heavily upon the optionality of slurs, namely, that a speaker exercises (...)
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  • Hermeneutical Injustice: Distortion and Conceptual Aptness.Arianna Falbo - 2022 - Hypatia 37 (2):343-363.
    This article develops a new approach for theorizing about hermeneutical injustice. According to a dominant view, hermeneutical injustice results from a hermeneutical gap: one lacks the conceptual tools needed to make sense of, or to communicate, important social experience, where this lack is a result of an injustice in the background social methods used to determine hermeneutical resources. I argue that this approach is incomplete. It fails to capture an important species of hermeneutical injustice which doesn’t result from a lack (...)
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  • Slurs and Redundancy.Y. Sandy Berkovski - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (4):1607-1622.
    According to nearly all theorists writing on the subject, a certain derogatory content is regularly and systematically communicated by slurs. So united, the theorists disagree sharply on the elements of this content, on its provenance, and on its mechanism. I argue that the basic premiss of all these views, that there is any such derogatory content conveyed with the use of slurs, is highly dubious.
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  • Slurs and the Fact/Value Divide.Rose Ryan Flinn - manuscript
    Theories of slurs mostly fall into two camps. According to conjunctivists, uses of slurs conventionally perform two distinct speech acts. The first is a non-derogatory act of referring to a kind, and the second is a non-referential act of derogation. The first act is also performed by their neutral counterparts. Minimalists, by contrast, think that uses of slurs conventionally perform the non-derogatory act of referring associated with their neutral counterparts, and that it all. I argue against both these approaches, by (...)
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  • Engineering virtue: constructionist virtue ethics.Jakob Ohlhorst - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Virtue ethics is traditionally a conservative project. It analyses the virtues that humanity has been relying on since antiquity. This conservatism unduly limits the potential of virtue ethics to contribute to moral progress. Instead, we should pay more attention to constructionist virtue ethics with the help of conceptual engineering. I will argue that revising and ameliorating the virtue concepts which a community uses directly and indirectly leads to a change of the virtues that exist in this community. By revising and (...)
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  • Busting the Ghost of Neutral Counterparts.Jen Foster - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Philosophers have nearly universally assumed that some highly general semantic relationship obtains between slurs and so-called “neutral counterpart” terms. This assumption has been fleshed out in different ways. On all extant accounts, however, it implies an unmotivated distinction between paradigmatic slur/“neutral counterpart” pairs and many pairs that theorists haven’t considered, including `chick flick’/`romantic comedy’, `stoner’/`cannabis user’, and 'libtard/'liberal’. For pairs like these, the most intuitive theory of the target relationship involves overlap––both in (presumed) extension and associated stereotypes. Since (I argue) (...)
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  • Hate Speech.Luvell Anderson & Michael Randall Barnes - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    -/- Hate speech is a concept that many people find intuitively easy to grasp, while at the same time many others deny it is even a coherent concept. A majority of developed, democratic nations have enacted hate speech legislation—with the contemporary United States being a notable outlier—and so implicitly maintain that it is coherent, and that its conceptual lines can be drawn distinctly enough. Nonetheless, the concept of hate speech does indeed raise many difficult questions: What does the ‘hate’ in (...)
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  • Kindhood and Essentialism: Evidence from Language.Katherine Ritchie & Joshua Knobe - 2020 - In Marjorie Rhodes (ed.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior.
    A large body of existing research suggests that people think very differently about categories that are seen as kinds (e.g., women) and categories that are not seen as kinds (e.g., people hanging out in the park right now). Drawing on work in linguistics, we suggest that people represent these two sorts of categories using fundamentally different representational formats. Categories that are not seen as kinds are simply represented as collections of individuals. By contrast, when it comes to kinds, people have (...)
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  • Race, Ideology, and the Communicative Theory of Punishment.Steven Swartzer - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19:1-22.
    This paper explores communicative punishment from a non-idealized perspective. I argue that, given the specific racial dynamics involved, and given the broader social and historical context in which they are embedded, American policing and punishment function as a form of racially derogatory discourse. Understood as communicative behavior, criminal justice activities express a commitment to a broader ideology. Given the facts about how the American justice system actually operates, and given its broader socio-political context, American carceral behaviors express a commitment to (...)
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