Language and Power
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Alison M. Jaggar & Iris Marion Young (eds.), A Companion to Feminist Philosophy,. Blackwell (1997)
This article argues that the real promise of feminist philosophy of language is in its account of articulated normativity. Feminist philosophy of language began within a descriptivist framework, seeking to identify and root out sexist discursive practices, like naming practices that subsume women’s identity under men’s, descriptive practices that erase or undermine women’s accomplishments and presence as subjects, and so on. This approach had its limits, and led to increased attention to the discursive practices through which we articulate our experiences and construct our lives. Examining the core frameworks through which feminists have analyzed the power of language to shape social reality and construct social selves, this article shows how language is normative in its production and reproduction of social norms by way of its content, forms, and constitutive discursive practices. The article urges feminists to use knowledge of the processes of articulation and legitimation to effect and explain feminist reconstitution of women as whole.
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