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What is a slur?

Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1399-1422 (2020)

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  1. Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government.Erin Kelly & Philip Pettit - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (1):90.
    In his most recent book, Philip Pettit presents and defends a “republican” political philosophy that stems from a tradition that includes Cicero, Machiavelli, James Harrington, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Madison. The book provides an interpretation of what is distinctive about republicanism—namely, Pettit claims, its notion of freedom as nondomination. He sketches the history of this notion, and he argues that it entails a unique justification of certain political arrangements and the virtues of citizenship that would make those arrangements possible. Of (...)
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  • The Semantics of Racial Epithets.Christopher Hom - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (8):416-440.
    Racial epithets are derogatory expressions, understood to convey contempt toward their targets. But what do they actually mean, if anything? While the prevailing view is that epithets are to be explained pragmatically, I argue that a careful consideration of the data strongly supports a particular semantic theory. I call this view Combinatorial Externalism. CE holds that epithets express complex properties that are determined by the discriminatory practices and stereotypes of their corresponding racist institutions. Depending on the character of the institution, (...)
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  • A Puzzle About Pejoratives.Christopher Hom - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):383-405.
    Pejoratives are the class of expressions that are meant to insult or disparage. They include swear words and slurs. These words allow speakers to convey emotional states beyond the truth-conditional contents that they are normally taken to encode. The puzzle arises because, although pejoratives seem to be a semantically unified class, some of their occurrences are best accounted for truth-conditionally, while others are best accounted for non-truth-conditionally. Where current, non-truth-conditional, views in the literature fail to provide a unified solution for (...)
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  • What Kind of a Mistake is It to Use a Slur?Adam Sennet & David Copp - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):1079-1104.
    What accounts for the offensive character of pejoratives and slurs, words like ‘kike’ and ‘nigger’? Is it due to a semantic feature of the words or to a pragmatic feature of their use? Is it due to a violation of a group’s desires to not be called by certain terms? Is it due to a violation of etiquette? According to one kind of view, pejoratives and the non-pejorative terms with which they are related—the ‘neutral counterpart’ terms—have different meanings or senses, (...)
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  • Expressivism and the Offensiveness of Slurs.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):231-259.
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  • Gendered Slurs.Lauren Ashwell - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (2):228-239.
    Slurring language has had a lot of recent interest, but the focus has been almost exclusively on racial slurs. Gendered pejoratives, on the other hand—terms like “slut,” “bitch,” or “sissy”—do not fit into existing accounts of slurring terms, as these accounts require the existence of neutral correlates, which, I argue, these gendered pejoratives lack. Rather than showing that these terms are not slurs, I argue that this challenges the assumption that slurs must have neutral correlates, and so that a new (...)
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  • It’s Not What You Said, It’s the Way You Said It: Slurs and Conventional Implicatures.Daniel Whiting - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):364-377.
    In this paper, I defend against a number of criticisms an account of slurs, according to which the same semantic content is expressed in the use of a slur as is expressed in the use of its neutral counterpart, while in addition the use of a slur conventionally implicates a negative, derogatory attitude. Along the way, I criticise competing accounts of the semantics and pragmatics of slurs, namely, Hom's 'combinatorial externalism' and Anderson and Lepore's 'prohibitionism'.
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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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  • Slurs, Roles and Power.Mihaela Popa-Wyatt & Jeremy L. Wyatt - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2879-2906.
    Slurring is a kind of hate speech that has various effects. Notable among these is variable offence. Slurs vary in offence across words, uses, and the reactions of audience members. Patterns of offence aren’t adequately explained by current theories. We propose an explanation based on the unjust power imbalance that a slur seeks to achieve. Our starting observation is that in discourse participants take on discourse roles. These are typically inherited from social roles, but only exist during a discourse. A (...)
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  • The Social Life of Slurs.Geoffrey Nunberg - 2018 - In Daniel Fogal, Daniel Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press.
    The words we call slurs are just plain vanilla descriptions like ‘cowboy’ and ‘coat hanger’. They don't semantically convey any disparagement of their referents, whether as content, conventional implicature, presupposition, “coloring” or mode of presentation. What distinguishes 'kraut' and 'German' is metadata rather than meaning: the former is the conventional description for Germans among Germanophobes when they are speaking in that capacity, in the same way 'mad' is the conventional expression that some teenagers use as an intensifier when they’re emphasizing (...)
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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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  • Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness.Delia Graff - 2000 - Philosophical Topics 28:45-82.
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  • Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment.Andrew Altman - 1995 - Ethics 106 (1):211-213.
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  • Domination and Migration: An Alternative Approach to the Legitimacy of Migration Controls.Iseult Honohan - 2014 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (1):31-48.
    Freedom as non-domination provides a distinctive criterion for assessing the justifiability of migration controls, different from both freedom of movement and autonomy. Migration controls are dominating insofar as they threaten to coerce potential migrants. Both the general right of states to control migration, and the wide range of discretionary procedures prevalent in migration controls, render outsiders vulnerable to arbitrary power. While the extent and intensity of domination varies, it is sufficient under contemporary conditions of globalization to warrant limits on states’ (...)
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  • Freedom as the Absence of Arbitrary Power.Quentin Skinner - 2008 - In Cécile Laborde & John W. Maynor (eds.), Republicanism and Political Theory. Blackwell. pp. 83--101.
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  • The Philosophy of David Kaplan.[author unknown] - 2010 - History and Philosophy of Logic 31 (4):390-392.
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  • The Use of Pejoratives.Timothy Williamson - 2010 - In Daniel Whiting (ed.), The Later Wittgenstein on Language. Palgrave-Macmillan.
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