Edited by Nicole Wyatt (University of Calgary)
|Summary||Feminist philosophy of language is characterized by attention to the social context of language use. This generally takes two forms. First, feminist philosophers have critiqued language itself, arguing that that various human languages masquerade as gender neutral while in fact encoding a world view on which maleness is the norm and women are either invisible or represented as the other. Second, they have critiqued analytic philosophy of language as itself displaying a male bias, and in particular as being driven by an overly individualistic picture of language use. This is not to say that feminist philosophers of language are not interested in meaning, reference, and truth. Rather, many would argue that these central topics in mainstream analytic philosophy of language cannot be properly investigated without attention to the social context in which language operates.|
|Key works||Language itself comes under fire in Moulton 1981 and Mercier 1995, which establish that terms like 'he' and 'man' do not have gender-neutral meanings and argue that treating them as gender-neutral, like use of gender-specific profession terms such as 'seamstress' or 'lady doctor' contribute to a general sense that maleness is the norm. Frye 1983 notes that the required sex-marking found in English and many other languages serves to make sex relevant where it need not be. Penelope 1990 and Spender 1985 go further, maintaining that the problem is not a particular collection of words, arguing instead that English quite generally encodes a male worldview, subordinates and renders invisible women, and takes males as the norm. Traditional analytic philosophy of language is charged with excessive individualism by Hintikka & Hintikka 1983 and Hornsby 2000, and Nye 1990 argues that philosophers of language have to their detriment not paid sufficient attention to either the political dimensions of language use or to actual failures of communication, preferring to concentrate on purely abstract problems of radical translation or reference across different worlds. Traditional speech act theory however has been put to use by a number of feminists: Langton & Hornsby 1998 use it to explicate Catherine MacKinnon's claim that pornography silences and subordinates women; Kukla 2014 develops a speech-act theoretic concept of discursive injustice.|
|Introductions||Hornsby 2000 Saul 2008|
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