Silencing without Convention

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (2):573-598 (2019)
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Silencing is usually explained in terms of conventionalism about the nature of speech acts. More recently, theorists have tried to develop intentionalist theories of the phenomenon. I argue, however, that if intentionalists are to accommodate the conventionalists' main insight, namely that silencing can be so extreme as to render certain types of speech act completely unavailable to victims, they must take two assumptions on board. First, it must be possible that speakers' communicative intentions are opaque to the speakers themselves. Secondly, it needs to be assumed that structural oppression can have hidden psychological effects on its victims. Since both assumptions can be motivated independently, I argue that silencing can be fully understood without appealing to linguistic conventions.

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Elmar Unnsteinsson
University College Dublin


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