Metaphor Abuse in the Time of Coronavirus: A Reply to Lynne Tirrell

Southwest Philosophy Review 37 (1):89-99 (2021)
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In the time of Coronavirus, it is perhaps as good a time as any to comment on the use and abuse of metaphors. One of the worst instances of metaphor abuse-especially given the recent epidemiological crisis-is Lynne Tirrell's notion of toxic speech. In the foregoing reply piece, I analyze Tirrell's metaphor and reveal how it blinds us to the liberating power of public speech. Lynne Tirrell argues that some speech is, borrowing from field of Epidemiology, toxic in the sense that it harms vulnerable listeners. In this response piece, I summarize the main points of Tirrell's toxic speech argument, map the underlying conceptual metaphor and pose three objections.

Author's Profile

Shane Ralston
University of Ottawa (PhD)


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