Conversational Disgust and Social Oppression

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 48 (1):89-104 (2021)
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In recent years, philosophers have begun to uncover the role played by verbal conduct in generating oppressive social structures. I examine the oppressive illocutionary uses, and perlocutionary effects, of expressives: speech acts that are not truth-apt, merely expressing attitudes, such as desires, preferences, and emotions. Focusing on expressions of disgust in conversation, I argue for two claims: that expressions of disgust can activate in the local, conversational context the oppressive power of the underlying structures of oppression; that conversational expressions of disgust can, via the pragmatic process of presupposition accommodation, contribute to morally problematic cases of disgust contagion.

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George Tsai
University of Hawaii


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