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The Social Life of Slurs

In Daniel Fogal, Daniel Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. Slurs and Antipresuppositions.Nicolás Lo Guercio - forthcoming - Natural Language Semantics.
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  • Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    [First published 09/2016; substantive revision 02/2021.] Evaluative terms and concepts are often divided into “thin” and “thick”. We don’t evaluate actions and persons merely as good or bad, or right or wrong, but also as kind, courageous, tactful, selfish, boorish, and cruel. The latter evaluative concepts are "descriptively thick": their application somehow involves both evaluation and a substantial amount of non-evaluative description. This article surveys various attempts to answer four fundamental questions about thick terms and concepts. (1) A “combination question”: (...)
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  • Power Matters.Gretchen Ellefson - forthcoming - Metascience.
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  • The Social Life of Slurs.Bianca Cepollaro - 2016 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia Analitica Junior 6 (2):114-115.
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  • What’s Wrong with Truth-Conditional Accounts of Slurs.Bianca Cepollaro & Tristan Thommen - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):333-347.
    The aim of this paper is to provide arguments based on linguistic evidence that discard a truth-conditional analysis of slurs and pave the way for more promising approaches. We consider Hom and May’s version of TCA, according to which the derogatory content of slurs is part of their truth-conditional meaning such that, when slurs are embedded under semantic operators such as negation, there is no derogatory content that projects out of the embedding. In order to support this view, Hom and (...)
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  • Communicating with Slurs.Jesse Rappaport - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):795-816.
    An adequate linguistic theory of slurs must address three major aspects of their meaning: descriptive, evaluative and expressive. Slurs denote specific groups, they are used to convey speakers’ evaluative attitudes, and some have a very strong emotional impact. In this paper, I argue that a variety of mechanisms are required to account for this range of properties. Semantically, slurs simply denote the groups that they target. Pragmatically, speakers use slurs to show, in the Relevance-Theoretic sense, that they share a negative (...)
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  • Slurs, Stereotypes and Insults.Eleonora Orlando & Andrés Saab - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (4):599-621.
    This paper is about paradigmatic slurs, i.e. expressions that are prima facie associated with the expression of a contemptuous attitude concerning a group of people identified in terms of its origin or descent, race, sexual orientation, ethnia or religion, gender, etc. Our purpose is twofold: explaining their expressive meaning dimension in terms of a version of stereotype semantics and analysing their original and most typical uses as insults, which will be called with a neologism ‘insultive’, in terms of a speech (...)
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  • Slurs and Semantic Indeterminacy.Giuliano Torrengo - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (4):1617-1627.
    The analysis of the derogatory aspect of slurs has recently aroused interest among philosophers of language. A puzzling element of it is its erratic behaviour in embeddings, for instance negation or belief reports. The derogatory aspect seems sometimes to “scope out” from the embedding to the context of utterance, while at other times it seems to interact with the linguistic constructions in which the slur is implanted. I argue that slurs force us to maintain a kind of semantic indeterminacy which, (...)
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  • Busting the Ghost of Neutral Counterparts.Jennifer Foster - unknown
    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 `liberal’/`libtard’. 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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  • Slurs, Neutral Counterparts, and What You Could Have Said.Arianna Falbo - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy 1.
    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 (2017) and Nunberg (2018), which rely heavily upon the optionality of slurs, namely, that a speaker exercises a deliberate lexical choice to use a slur when they could (...)
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  • Una aproximación lexicográfica a los insultos de grupo en Uruguay.Ana Clara Polakof & Andrés de Azevedo - 2020 - Textos En Proceso 6 (1).
    El presente trabajo tiene por cometido incursionar en el estudio de los insultos de grupo –expresiones lingüísticas utilizadas para expresar una actitud peyorativa hacia una persona como integrante de un colectivo– desde un abordaje lexicográfico. Tal perspectiva toma algunos posicionamientos y planteos del debate actual sobre los insultos de grupo provenientes de la filosofía del lenguaje con el fin de iluminar sus posibles consecuencias en la confección y análisis de los diccionarios. Sobre la base de Pullum, y el empleo de (...)
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  • Editors’ Introduction: The Challenge From Non-Derogatory Uses of Slurs.Bianca Cepollaro & Dan Zeman - 2020 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1):1-10.
    The Introduction to "Non-Derogatory Uses of Slurs", special issue of Grazer Philosophische Studien.
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  • Moral Responsibility for Concepts, Continued: Concepts as Abstract Objects.Rachel Fredericks - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (4):1029-1043.
    In Fredericks (2018b), I argued that we can be morally responsible for our concepts if they are mental representations. Here, I make a complementary argument for the claim that even if concepts are abstract objects, we can be morally responsible for coming to grasp and for thinking (or not thinking) in terms of them. As before, I take for granted Angela Smith's (2005) rational relations account of moral responsibility, though I think the same conclusion follows from various other accounts. My (...)
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  • The Worst and the Best of Propaganda.Bianca Cepollaro & Giuliano Torrengo - 2018 - Disputatio 1 (51):289-303.
    In this paper we discuss two issues addressed by Stanley in How Propaganda Works: the status of slurs (Section 1) and the notion of positive propaganda (Section 2). In particular, in Section 1 we argue contra Stanley that code words like ‘welfare’ are crucially different from slurs in that the association between the lexical item and an additional social meaning is not as systematic as it is for slurs. In this sense, slurs bring about a special kind of propagandistic effect, (...)
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  • What is a Slur?Justina Diaz-Legaspe - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1399-1422.
    Although there seems to be an agreement on what slurs are, many authors diverge when it comes to classify some words as such. Hence, many debates would benefit from a technical definition of this term that would allow scholars to clearly distinguish what counts as a slur and what not. Although the paper offers different definitions of the term in order to allow the reader to choose her favorite, I claim that ‘slurs’ is the name given to a grammatical category, (...)
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  • A Stereotype Semantics for Syntactically Ambiguous Slurs.Eleonora Orlando & Andrés Saab - 2020 - Analytic Philosophy 61 (2):101-129.
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  • Normalizing Slurs and Out‐Group Slurs: The Case of Referential Restriction.Justina Diaz Legaspe - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (2):234-255.
    The relation between slurs and their neutral counterparts has been put into question recently by the fact that some slurs can be used to refer to subsets of the referential classes determined by their associated counterparts. This paper aims to reinforce this relation by offering a way of explaining referential restriction that distinguishes between two kinds of slurs: those performing a normalizing role upon (some) individuals inside a class (mostly, a gender) and those used to derogate a marginalized out- group.
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  • An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs.Eleonore Neufeld - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of (...)
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  • The Pragmatics of Slurs.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2017 - Noûs 51 (3):439-462.
    I argue that the offense generation pattern of slurring terms parallels that of impoliteness behaviors, and is best explained by appeal to similar purely pragmatic mechanisms. In choosing to use a slurring term rather than its neutral counterpart, the speaker signals that she endorses the term. Such an endorsement warrants offense, and consequently slurs generate offense whenever a speaker's use demonstrates a contrastive preference for the slurring term. Since this explanation comes at low theoretical cost and imposes few constraints on (...)
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  • Slurs and Register: A Case Study in Meaning Pluralism.Justina Diaz‐Legaspe, Chang Liu & Robert J. Stainton - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):156-182.
    Most theories of slurs fall into one of two families: those which understand slurring terms to involve special descriptive/informational content (however conveyed), and those which understand them to encode special emotive/expressive content. Our view is that both offer essential insights, but that part of what sets slurs apart is use-theoretic content. In particular, we urge that slurring words belong at the intersection of a number of categories in a sociolinguistic register taxonomy, one that usually includes [+slang] and [+vulgar] and always (...)
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  • Language Loss and Illocutionary Silencing.Ethan Nowak - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):831-865.
    The twenty-first century will witness an unprecedented decline in the diversity of the world’s languages. While most philosophers will likely agree that this decline is lamentable, the question of what exactly is lost with a language has not been systematically explored in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I address this lacuna by arguing that language loss constitutes a problematic form of illocutionary silencing. When a language disappears, past and present speakers lose the ability to realize a range of speech (...)
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  • Emociones, ofensa y registro sociolingüístico: el caso de los “usos distantes” de los términos discriminatorios.Justina Diaz Legaspe & Robert Stainton - 2020 - Critica 51 (153):3-29.
    Existe un tipo particular de usos de términos discriminatorios en el que las emociones negativas típicamente asociadas a él no se hallan de hecho presentes. Aun así, lo incorrecto o inadecuado sigue resonando en esos usos. Este tipo de ``uso distante'' resulta interesante per se, en cuanto fenómeno conversacional rara vez advertido. Sin embargo, también presta apoyo a una aproximación a los términos discriminatorios basada en el concepto sociolingüístico de ``registro'', de la cual se sigue esta relación entre emociones e (...)
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  • Términos peyorativos de grupo, estereotipos y actos de habla.Eleonora Orlando & Andrés Saab - 2020 - Critica 51 (153).
    Este trabajo trata de los términos peyorativos de grupo, es decir, expresiones que se usan paradigmáticamente para hablar de manera despectiva acerca de ciertos grupos identificados en virtud de su origen o descendencia, raza o nivel social, orientación sexual, religión, ideología política, modo de vida, etc. Nos proponemos tanto explicar el significado expresivo de este tipo de términos mediante una versión de la semántica de estereotipos como analizar sus usos originales y paradigmáticos, aquellos en los que funcionan como insultos, en (...)
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  • Emotive Meaning in Political Argumentation.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2019 - Informal Logic 39 (3):229-261.
    Donald Trump’s speeches and messages are characterized by terms that are commonly referred to as “thick” or “emotive,” meaning that they are characterized by a tendency to be used to generate emotive reactions. This paper investigates how emotive meaning is related to emotions, and how it is generated or manipulated. Emotive meaning is analyzed as an evaluative conclusion that results from inferences triggered by the use of a term, which can be represented and assessed using argumentation schemes. The evaluative inferences (...)
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  • Multiculturalism, Autonomy, and Language Preservation.Ethan Nowak - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    In this paper, I show how a novel treatment of speech acts can be combined with a well-known liberal argument for multiculturalism in a way that will justify claims about the preservation, protection, or accommodation of minority languages. The key to the paper is the claim that every language makes a distinctive range of speech acts possible, acts that cannot be realized by means of any other language. As a result, when a language disappears, so does a class of speech (...)
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  • On an Alleged Case of Propaganda: Reply to McKinnon.Sophie R. Allen, Elizabeth Finneron-Burns, Mary Leng, Holly Lawford-Smith, Jane Clare Jones, Rebecca Reilly-Cooper & R. J. Simpson - manuscript
    In her recent paper ‘The Epistemology of Propaganda’ Rachel McKinnon discusses what she refers to as ‘TERF propaganda’. We take issue with three points in her paper. The first is her rejection of the claim that ‘TERF’ is a misogynistic slur. The second is the examples she presents as commitments of so-called ‘TERFs’, in order to establish that radical (and gender critical) feminists rely on a flawed ideology. The third is her claim that standpoint epistemology can be used to establish (...)
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  • Hybrid Evaluatives: In Defense of a Presuppositional Account.Bianca Cepollaro & Isidora Stojanovic - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (3):458-488.
    In this paper, the authors present a presuppositional account for a class of evaluative terms that encode both a descriptive and an evaluative component: slurs and thick terms. The authors discuss several issues related to the hybrid nature of these terms, such as their projective behavior, the ways in which one may reject their evaluative content, and the ways in which evaluative content is entailed or implicated (as the case may be) by the use of such terms.
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