Feminist Metaphysics:179--207 (forthcoming)
|Abstract||Are sagging pants cool? Are cows food? Are women more submissive than men? Are blacks more criminal than whites? Taking the social world at face value, many people would be tempted to answer these questions in the affirmative. And if challenged, they can point to facts that support their answers. But there is something wrong about the affirmative answers. I deny that sagging pants are cool, cows are food, women are more submissive than men, and blacks are more criminal than whites. And moreover, I maintain that there is an objective basis for denying these claims even though the facts seem to support the face value affirmative response. But how can that be? We all know that male urban youth can barely walk with their pants belted around their thighs, that beef is a staple in the American diet, that blacks are incarcerated in the United States at a much higher rate than any other race, and that women defer to men in both work and family life. How could a denial of these facts be justified? In this paper I will sketch a way to interpret claims such as the ones listed in the previous paragraph that shows how they convey more than they seem. To do so, I will draw on recent ideas in the philosophy of language and metaphysics to show how the assertion of a generic claim of the sort in question ordinarily permits one to infer that the fact in question obtains by virtue of something specifically about the subject so described, i.e., about women, or blacks, or sagging pants. In the examples I’ve offered, however, this implication is unwarranted. The facts in question obtain by virtue of broad..|
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