The Normativity of Gender Discourse: A Pragmatic Approach

The Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
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Many disputes about gender are normatively charged. To account for this, some suggest building normativity into the semantics of gender terms. I propose an alternative, pragmatic account. When speakers utter gender-attributing sentences of the form ‘Person A is of gender G’, they often pragmatically convey normative content about whether A should be categorized as G. After critically discussing the semantic approach, I motivate and discuss in detail this novel pragmatic view and elaborate on its compatibility with a number of semantic options.

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Viktoria Knoll
Technische Universität Dresden


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