Catharine MacKinnon claims that pornography silences women in a way that violates the right to free speech. This claim is, of course, controversial, but if it is correct, then the very free speech reasons for protecting pornography appear also to afford reason to restrict it. For this reason, it has gained considerable attention. The philosophical literature thus far focuses on a type of silencing identified and analyzed by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton (H&L). This article identifies, analyzes, and argues for (...) the importance of a different type of silencing. As we shall see, there are compelling reasons in favor of regarding H&L silencing as a free speech violation and, as I argue here, the same can be said for sincerity silencing. Although additional work needs to be done to show that either one actually is a free speech violation, I demonstrate here that both types of silencing equally warrant this further attention. Moreover, I show that sincerity silencing is a fairly widespread phenomenon; so, therefore, is the harm it constitutes. As a result of these considerations, then, we can safely conclude that sincerity silencing also requires our attention. (shrink)
Catharine MacKinnon has pioneered a new brand of anti-pornography argument. In particular, MacKinnon claims that pornography silences women in a way that violates their right to free speech. In what follows, we focus on a certain account of silencing put forward by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton, and we defend that account against two important objections. The first objection contends that this account makes a crucial but false assumption about the necessary role of hearer recognition in successful speech acts. In (...) response, we argue that, as silencing primarily concerns communication, Hornsby and Langton are perfectly correct to treat hearer recognition as they do. The second objection contends that their particular account of silencing has the unacceptable result of undermining the responsibility of rapists. We here argue that no such result follows from their account. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Nellie Wieland argues that silencing in the sense put forward by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby has the unpalatable consequence of diminishing a rapist's responsibility for the rape. We argue both that Wieland misidentifies Langton and Hornsby's conception of silencing, and that neither Langton and Hornsby's actual conception, nor the one that Wieland attributes to them, in fact generates this consequence.
I here present two different models of oppressive speech. My interest is not in how speech can cause oppression, but in how speech can actually be an act of oppression. As we shall see, a particular type of speech act, the exercitive, enacts permissibility facts. Since oppressive speech enacts permissibility facts that oppress, speech must be exercitive in order for it to be an act of oppression. In what follows, I distinguish between two sorts of exercitive speech acts (the standard (...) exercitive and the covert exercitive) and I argue that each such exercitive affords a distinct model of oppressive speech. (shrink)
Suppose a diner says, 'Can you pass the salt?' Although her utterance is literally a question (about the physical abilities of the addressee), most would take it as a request (that the addressee pass the salt). In such a case, the request is performed indirectly by way of directly asking a question. Accordingly this utterance is known as an indirect speech act. On the standard account of such speech acts, a single utterance constitutes two distinct speech acts. On this account (...) then, 'Can you pass the salt?' is both a question and a request. In a provocative essay, Rod Bertolet argues that there are no indirect speech acts. According to Bertolet, 'Can you pass the salt?' is only a question. It is a question that merely functions as a request (without also being one). In this paper we respond to Bertolet's skeptical argument. Appealing to Searle's theory of speech acts and to certain features of linguistic communication, we argue that, despite Bertolet's challenge, there is good reason to countenance indirect speech acts. (shrink)
Although others have focused on Catharine MacKinnon's claim that pornography subordinates and silences women, I here focus on her claim that pornography constructs women's nature and that this construction is, in some sense, false. Since it is unclear how pornography, as speech, can construct facts and how constructed facts can nevertheless be false, MacKinnon's claim requires elucidation. Appealing to speech act theory, I introduce an analysis of the erroneous verdictive and use it to make sense of MacKinnon's constructionist claims. I (...) also show that the erroneous verdictive is of more general interest. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a new (i.e., previously overlooked) breed of exercitive speech act (the conversational exercitive). I establish that any conversational contribution that invokes a rule of accommodation changes the bounds of conversational permissibility and is therefore an (indirect) exercitive speech act. Such utterances enact permissibility facts without expressing the content of such facts, without the speaker intending to be enacting such facts and without the hearer recognizing that it is so. Because of the peculiar nature ofthe rules (...) of accommodation that generate them, conversational exercitives have importantly different felicity conditions and therefore constitute a new breed ofexercitive speech act. (shrink)
It is widely recognized that Goodman's grue example demonstrates that the rules for induction, unlike those for deduction, cannot be purely syntactic. Ways in which Goodman's proof generalizes, however, are not widely recognized. Gruesome considerations demonstrate that neither theories of simplicity nor theories of empirical confirmation can be purely syntactic. Moreover, the grue paradox can be seen as an instance of a much more general phenomenon. All empirical investigations require semantic constraints, since purely structural constraints are inadequate. Both Russell's theory (...) of empirical knowledge and Putnam's model-theoretic argument against metaphysical realism illustrate the inadequacy of purely structural constraints. (shrink)
In what follows, I motivate and clarify the controversy over metaphysical realism (the claim that there is a single objective way that the world is) by defending it against two objections. A clear understanding of why these objections are misguided goes a considerable distance in illuminating the complex and controversial nature of m-realism. Once the complex thesis is defined, some objections to it are considered. Since m-realism is such a complex and controversial thesis, it cannot legitimately be treated as inevitable (...) unless, of course, there are no viable alternatives to it. For this reason, a brief defense of non-realist metaphysics is offered. Since m-realism is both controversial and substantive, a commitment to it requires both explicit recognition and sustained defense. (shrink)
The idea that the world is human construction is fairly familiar and generally disparaged. One version of this claim is partially defendedhere. This subjectivist thesis concerns a debate about the objectivityof rightness of categorization. A problem about the discriminatoryrole of properties is both presented and motivated. The subjectivistthesis is articulated and defended against two powerful objections.Finally, this thesis is shown to be conceptually independent ofboth verificationism and empirical idealism.