About this topic
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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  1. From Stereotype to Context: The Study of Japanese Women's Speech.Hideko Nornes Abe - 1995 - Feminist Studies 21 (3):647.
  2. Girls! Girls! Girls!: The Supreme Court Confronts the G-String.Amy M. Adler - manuscript
    What is it about the nude female body that inspires irrationality, fear, and pandemonium, or at least inspires judges to write bad decisions? This Article offers an analysis of the Supreme Court's nude dancing cases from a perspective that is surprising within First Amendment discourse. This perspective is surprising because it is feminist in spirit and because it is literary and psychoanalytic in methodology. In my view, this unique approach is warranted because the cases have been so notoriously resistant to (...)
  3. A Gendered Analysis of the Role of Authority in Argumentation.Khameiel Al Tamimi & John E. Fields - unknown
    The first part of this paper will look at how essential features of power and authority affect the credibility of arguments. Empirical evidence from communication studies and feminist writings, such Sue Campbell, and Robin Lakoff, shows that there is inherent disparity in the reception of arguments when presented by men and women. The second part will aim to elucidate how this problem of lack of authority is not addressed by the ad verecundiam fallacy.
  4. Saying and Doing: Speech Actions, Speech Acts, and Related Events.Gruenberg Angela - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):173-199.
    The question which this paper examines is that of the correct scope of the claim that extra-linguistic factors (such as gender and social status) can block the proper workings of natural language. The claim that this is possible has been put forward under the apt label of silencing in the context of Austinian speech act theory. The ‘silencing’ label is apt insofar as when one’s ability to exploit the inherent dynamic of language is ‘blocked’ by one’s gender or social status (...)
  5. A Mind of One's Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity.Louise Antony, Charlene Witt, Linda Alcoff & Elizabeth Potter - 1993 - Hypatia 8 (4):140-149.
    The contributors to two new anthologies A Mind of One's Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity and Feminist Epistemologies are philosophers for whom feminism is an intellectual as well as political commitment and they produce original, valuable feminist and philosophical work. I focus on differences between the anthologies and on two themes: the social character of knowledge and the allegedly oppressive "masculinism" of epistemological ideals.
  6. 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 (...)
  7. Speech Affordances: A Structural Take on How Much We Can Do with Our Words.Saray Ayala - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):879-891.
    Individuals can do a broad variety of things with their words and enjoy different degrees of this capacity. What moderates this capacity? And in cases in which this capacity is unjustly disrupted, what is a good explanation for it? These are the questions I address here. I propose that speech capacity, understood as the capacity to do things with your words, is a structural property importantly dependent on individuals' position in a social structure. My account facilitates a non-individualistic explanation of (...)
  8. Definition and the Question of “Woman”.Victoria Barker - 1997 - Hypatia 12 (2):185-215.
    Within recent feminist philosophy, controversy has developed over the desirability, and indeed, the possibility of defining the central terms of its analysis-"woman," "femininity," etc. The controversy results largely from the undertheorization of the notion of definition; feminists have uncritically adopted an Aristotelian treatment of definition as entailing metaphysical, rather than merely linguistic, commitments. A "discursive" approach to definition, by contrast, allows us to define our terms, while avoiding the dangers of essentialism and universalism.
  9. Definition and the Question of "Woman".Victoria Barker - 1997 - Hypatia 12 (2):185 - 215.
    Within recent feminist philosophy, controversy has developed over the desirability, and indeed, the possibility of defining the central terms of its analysis-"woman," "femininity," etc. The controversy results largely from the undertheorization of the notion of definition; feminists have uncritically adopted an Aristotelian treatment of definition as entailing metaphysical, rather than merely linguistic, commitments. A "discursive" approach to definition, by contrast, allows us to define our terms, while avoiding the dangers of essentialism and universalism.
  10. Speaking with (Subordinating) Authority.Michael Randall Barnes - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (2):240-257.
    In “Subordinating Speech,” Ishani Maitra defends the claim that ordinary instances of hate speech can sometimes constitute subordination. While she accepts that subordinating speech requires authority, she argues that ordinary speakers can acquire this authority via a process of “licensing.” I believe this account is interestingly mistaken, and in this paper I develop an alternative account. In particular, I take issue with what I see as the highly localized character of Maitra’s account, which effectively divorces the subordinating authority of ordinary (...)
  11. How to Do Things With Pornography.Nancy Bauer - 2006 - In Sanford Shieh & Alice Crary (eds.), Reading Cavell.
  12. What is a Stereotype? What is Stereotyping?Erin Beeghly - 2015 - Hypatia 30 (4):675-691.
    If someone says, “Asians are good at math” or “women are empathetic,” I might interject, “you're stereotyping” in order to convey my disapproval of their utterance. But why is stereotyping wrong? Before we can answer this question, we must better understand what stereotypes are and what stereotyping is. In this essay, I develop what I call the descriptive view of stereotypes and stereotyping. This view is assumed in much of the psychological and philosophical literature on implicit bias and stereotyping, yet (...)
  13. The Problem of Speaking For Others.Linda Bell - unknown
    Consider the following true stories: 1. Anne Cameron, a very gifted white Canadian author, writes several first person accounts of the lives of Native Canadian women. At the 1988 International Feminist Book Fair in Montreal, a group of Native Canadian writers ask Cameron to, in their words, "move over" on the grounds that her writings are disempowering for Native authors. She agrees. 2 2. After the 1989 elections in Panama are overturned by Manuel Noriega, U.S. President George Bush declares in (...)
  14. Feminism and the A-Word: Power and Community in the University.Paul Benson - 2007 - Hypatia 22 (4):223-229.
  15. Testimony, Epistemic Difference, and Privilege: How Feminist Epistemology Can Improve Our Understanding of the Communication of Knowledge.Lisa A. Bergin - 2002 - Social Epistemology 16 (3):197 – 213.
  16. Indexicals, Speech Acts and Pornography.Claudia Bianchi - 2008 - Analysis 68 (4):310-316.
    In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...)
  17. Illocutionary Silencing.Alexander Bird - 2002 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 83 (1):1–15.
    Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby have argued that pornography might create a climate whereby a woman’s ability to refuse sex is literally silenced or removed. Their central argument is that a failure of ‘uptake’ of the woman’s intention means that the illocutionary speech act of refusal has not taken place. In this paper, I challenge the claims from the Austinian philosophy of language which feature in this argument. I argue that uptake is not in general required for illocution, nor is (...)
  18. Color in the Theory of Colors? Or: Are Philosophers' Colors All White?Berit Brogaard - 2009 - In George Yancy (ed.), he Center Must Not Hold: White Women on The Whiteness of Philosophy.
    Let’s say that a philosophical theory is white just in case it treats the perspective of the white (perhaps Western male) as objective.1 The potential dangers of proposing or defending white theories are two-fold. First, if not all of reality is objective, a fact which I take to be established beyond doubt,2 then white theories could well turn out to be false.3 A white theory is unwarranted (and indeed false) when it treats nonobjective reality as objective. Second, by proposing or (...)
  19. Gendered Politeness, Self-Respect, and Autonomy.Sylvia Burrow - 2008 - In Bernard Mulo Farenkia (ed.), In De la Politesse Linguistique au Cameroun / Linguistic Politeness in Cameroon. Peter Lang.
    Socialization enforces gendered standards of politeness that encourage men to be dominating and women to be deferential in mixed-gender discourse. This gendered dynamic of politeness places women in a double bind. If women are to participate in polite discourse with men, and thus to avail of smooth and fortuitous social interaction, women demote themselves to a lower social ranking. If women wish to rise above such ranking, then they fail to be polite and hence, open themselves to a wellspring of (...)
  20. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative.Judith Butler - 2013 - Routledge.
    With the same intellectual courage with which she addressed issues of gender, Judith Butler turns her attention to speech and conduct in contemporary political life, looking at several efforts to target speech as conduct that has become subject to political debate and regulation. Reviewing hate speech regulations, anti-pornography arguments, and recent controversies about gay self-declaration in the military, Judith Butler asks whether and how language acts in each of these cultural sites.
  21. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative.Judith Butler - 1997 - Routledge.
    With the same intellectual courage with which she addressed issues of gender, Judith Butler turns her attention to speech and conduct in contemporary political life, looking at several efforts to target speech as conduct that has become subject to political debate and regulation. Reviewing hate speech regulations, anti-pornography arguments, and recent controversies about gay self-declaration in the military, Judith Butler asks whether and how language acts in each of these cultural sites.
  22. Gender, Language, and the New Biologism.Deborah Cameron - 2010 - Constellations 17 (4):526-539.
  23. Feminism and Linguistic Theory.Deborah Cameron - 1985
  24. Review: Women and Language in Susan Griffin's Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. [REVIEW]H. Cantrell Carol - 1994 - Hypatia 9 (3):225 - 238.
    In Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, Susan Griffin's embedding of language and culture within the natural world implicitly offers a critique of widespread assumptions, shared by many feminists, that language belongs only to the powerful and that it is inherently violent. Griffin's depiction of the process through which women come to speech is illuminated by V. N. Vološinov's work on the multiaccentuality of language and by Trinh Minh-ha's characterizations of oral traditions. Both authors stress the constant re-creation of (...)
  25. The L Word and the F Word.Claudia Card - 2006 - Hypatia 21 (2):223-229.
  26. Excavating Discursivity: "Post-Partum Document" in the Conceptualist, Feminist, and Psychoanalytic Fields.Juli Christine Carson - 2000 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Post-Partum Document, a multi-media artwork made by American artist Mary Kelly from 1973--1978, was informed by and contributed to contemporaneous debates in the fields of Conceptualism, feminism, and psychoanalysis throughout the seventies. This dissertation addresses the project's "debate-specificity." The conventional art historical categorization and analysis of an artwork, one based upon its medium specificity, was a mode of modernist criticism that Kelly's work specifically interrogated. What therefore distinguished Post-Partum Document from other artworks of its period was an interrogation of the (...)
  27. Thinking Through Language: Essays on Wittgenstein for Feminist Purposes.Sandra Wade Churchill - 1994 - Dissertation, The Union Institute
    I study the relations between language, logic and formal meaning structures as these concepts and relationships change during Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical career. I work from a feminist perspective on language and logic which assumes a posture of intellectual activism and which reads Wittgenstein's philosophy of language for a variety of purposes best characterized as cultural critique. ;The first two essays deal directly with logic, language, and formal meaning structures as these shape, and are shaped by, feminist thinking about philosophical problems (...)
  28. The Hate That Dare Not Speak its Name: Pornography Qua Semi-Political Speech. [REVIEW]Daniel I. A. Cohen - 1994 - Law and Philosophy 13 (2):195 - 239.
    In this essay we shall examine the contemporary jurisprudential thinking and legal precedents surrounding the issue of the sanctionability of pornography. We shall catalogue them by their logical presumptions, such as whether they view pornography as speech or act, whether they view pornography as obscenity, political hate-speech or anomalous other, whether they would scrutinize legislation governing pornography by a balancing of the harm of repression against the harm of permission, and who exactly they view as the victims.We shall take a (...)
  29. Plastic Actions: Linguistic Strategies and Le Corps Lesbien.Karin Cope - 1991 - Hypatia 6 (3):74 - 96.
    In both her fiction and her essays on writing and feminist theory, Monique Wittig takes up and redeploys traditional themes and genres as well as recent theories of language, literature, and writing in order to force change in and through the dominant categories of thought and language. She has announced her project as one which would "do away with the category of sex" by way of reconfiguring the grammatically and conceptually enforced compulsory heterosexual order. I examine the specific linguistic mechanisms (...)
  30. 'She' and 'He': Politically Correct Pronouns.Eros Corazza - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 111 (2):173 - 196.
    It is argued that the pronouns `she' and `he' are disguised complexdemonstratives of the form `that female/male'. Three theories ofcomplex demonstratives are examined and shown to be committed to theview that `s/he' turns out to be an empty term when used to refer toa hermaphrodite. A fourth theory of complex demonstratives, one thatis hermaphrodite friendly, is proposed. It maintains that complexdemonstratives such as `that female/male' and the pronoun `s/he' can succeed in referring to someone independently of his or her gender.This (...)
  31. Out of the Shadows: Analytic Feminist Contributions to Traditional Philosophy.Sharon Crasnow & Anita Superson (eds.) - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
    light at the street level,1 bringing the streets out from the shadows. The effects of social progress are often even more significant than the effects of vertical progress, since social progress can be tradition-changing at various levels, bringing ...
  32. Sex, Vagueness, and the Olympics.Helen L. Daly - 2015 - Hypatia 30 (4):708-724.
    Sex determines much about one's life, but what determines one's sex? The answer is complicated and incomplete: on close examination, ordinary notions of female and male are vague. In 2012, the International Olympic Committee further specified what they mean by woman in response to questions about who, exactly, is eligible to compete in women's Olympic events. I argue, first, that their stipulation is evidence that the use of vague terms is better described by semantic approaches to vagueness than by epistemic (...)
  33. Amazon Grace: Re-Calling the Courage to Sin Big.Mary Daly - 2006 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    In her signature style, revolutionary Mary Daly takes you on a Quantum leap into a joyous future of victory for women. Daly, the groundbreaking author of such classics as Beyond God the Father and The Church and the Second Sex , explores the visions of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the great nineteenth-century philosopher, and reveals that her insights are stunningly helpful to twenty-first-century Voyagers seeking to overcome the fascism and life-hating fundamentalism that has infused current power structures. Daly shows us once (...)
  34. Quintessence-- Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto.Mary Daly - 1998 - Beacon Press.
  35. Wittgenstein and Irigaray: Gender and Philosophy in a Language of Difference.Joyce Davidson & Mick Smith - 1999 - Hypatia 14 (2):72-96.
    Drawing Wittgenstein's and Irigaray's philosophies into conversation might help resolve certain misunderstandings that have so far hampered both the reception of Irigaray's work and the development of feminist praxis in general. A Wittgensteinian reading of Irigaray can furnish an anti-essentialist conception of "woman" that retains the theoretical and political specificity feminism requires while dispelling charges that Irigaray's attempt to delineate a "feminine" language is either groundlessly utopian or entails a biological essentialism.
  36. How to Silence Content with Porn, Context and Loaded Questions.Alex Davies - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2).
    Catharine MacKinnon claimed that pornography silence's women's speech where this speech is protected by free speech legislation. MacKinnon's claim was attacked as confused because, so it seemed, pornography is not the kind of thing that can silence speech. Using ideas drawn from John Austin's account of speech acts, Rae Langton defended MacKinnon's claim against this attack by showing how speech can, in principle, be silenced by pornography. However, Langton's defence requires us to deviate from a widely held understanding of what (...)
  37. Spaces for Difference: Discourse Ethics and Feminist Theory.Jodi Deeahn Dean - 1992 - Dissertation, Columbia University
    This dissertation examines the intersecting concerns of feminist theory and discourse ethics to make an argument for the ability of discursive universalism to include the concerns of women. Feminists have raised a number of objections to the cognitive and universal claims of moral proceduralism. These objections include arguments regarding the blindness of so-called "neutral" procedures to persons and contexts, the tension in the universality of an abstract and cognitivist morality which fails to value women's moral perceptions, the failure to acknowledge (...)
  38. "Cartographies of Silence": Rich's "Common Language" and the Woman Poet.Joanne Feit Diehl - 1980 - Feminist Studies 6 (3):530.
  39. Pornographic Subordination, Power, and Feminist Alternatives.Matt L. Drabek - unknown
    How does pornography subordinate on the basis of gender? I provide part of an answer in this paper by framing subordination as something that works through everyday classification. Under certain material and social conditions, pornography classifies people through labeling them in ways that connect to structures of oppression. I hope to show two things. First, pornographic content is not the major driving force behind pornography’s subordination of women. Second, pornography, when repurposed in new ways, carries the potential to counter the (...)
  40. The Extinction of Masculine Generics.Brian D. Earp - 2012 - Journal for Communication and Culture 2 (1):4-19.
    In English, as in many other languages, male-gendered pronouns are sometimes used to refer not only to men, but to individuals whose gender is unknown or unspecified, to human beings in general (as in ―mankind‖) and sometimes even to females (as when the casual ―Hey guys‖ is spoken to a group of women). These so-called he/man or masculine generics have come under fire in recent decades for being sexist, even archaic, and positively harmful to women and girls; and advocates of (...)
  41. Public Policy as a Matter of Principle: An Examination Into Expression That Silences and Subordinates.Tracy Annette Edwards - 2000 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
    This dissertation addresses two concerns. First, is the regulation of a subset of hate-speech, namely 'assaultive expression', justifiable within the framework of current First Amendment jurisprudence? Second, should assaultive expression that targets the oppressed be regulated? ;The first concern addressed, namely whether the regulation of assaultive expression is justifiable, though at base descriptive, is examined by employing philosopher of language J. L. Austin's theory of performative speech acts and feminist philosopher Rae Langton's theory of subordinating and silencing expression in order (...)
  42. Making Sense of Nonsense: Trivial Remarks on the Nature of Language.Terri Elliott - 1996 - Dissertation, The University of Iowa
    "Making Sense of Nonsense: Trivial Remarks on the Nature of Language" is an inquiry into the nature and significance of nonsense for philosophers and other human beings. Philosophers have been accused of indulging in nonsense. Wittgenstein complains that philosophers take language on holiday. If an utterance is nonsense in virtue of being on holiday, we might expect meaningful utterances to be meaningful in virtue of their being at work, at home. When we look at language at home, we find that, (...)
  43. Feminist Rhetorical Resilience.Elizabeth A. Flynn, Patricia J. Sotirin & Ann P. Brady (eds.) - 2012 - Utah State University Press.
  44. Language and the Gendered Body: Butler's Early Reading of Merleau‐Ponty.Anna Petronella Foultier - 2013 - Hypatia 28 (4):767-783.
    Through a close reading of Judith Butler's 1989 essay on Merleau-Ponty's “theory” of sexuality as well as the texts her argument hinges on, this paper addresses the debate about the relation between language and the living, gendered body as it is understood by defenders of poststructural theory on the one hand, and different interpretations of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology on the other. I claim that Butler, in her criticism of the French philosopher's analysis of the famous “Schneider case,” does not take its (...)
  45. Political Correctness: For and Against.Marilyn Friedman & Jan Narveson - 1994 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    Two prominent philosophers here engage in a forthright debate over some of the centrally disputed topics in the political correctness controversy now taking place on college campuses across the nation, including feminism, campus speech codes, the western canon, and the nature of truth. Friedman and Narveson conclude the volume with direct replies to each other's positions.
  46. Advertising, Gender Stereotypes and Religion. A Perspective From the Philosophy of Communication.Mihaela Frunza - 2015 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 14 (40):72-91.
    Feminist authors claim that many of the advertising messages are promoting stereotypical images of the genders. However, if in social sciences, gender stereotypes have been facilitated and enforced by religious ideologies, the connections between gender stereotypes in advertising and religious ideologies remain to be investigated. The purpose of this paper is to analyze these connections. Using the tools and methods of philosophy of communication, the paper attempts to emphasize a double discourse of advertising: an external one that derives from existing (...)
  47. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory.Marilyn Frye - 1983 - The Crossing Press.
    Marilyn Frye's first book, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, presents nine philosophical lectures: four on women's subordination, four on resistance and rebellion, one on revolution. Its approach combines a lesbian perspective with analytical philosophy of language. The major contributions of the book are its analysis of oppression, highly suggestive discussions of the roles of attention in knowledge and ignorance and in arrogance and love, a defense of political separatism not based on female supremacism, and a development of (...)
  48. Book Review: Miranda Fricker and Jennifer Hornsby. The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2000. [REVIEW]Ann Garry - 2004 - Hypatia 19 (4):230-232.
  49. Women, Knowledge and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy.Ann Garry & Marilyn Pearsall (eds.) - 1989 - Routledge.
    This second edition of _Women, Knowledge, and Reality_ continues to exhibit the ways in which feminist philosophers enrich and challenge philosophy. Essays by twenty-five feminist philosophers, seventeen of them new to the second edition, address fundamental issues in philosophical and feminist methods, metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophies of science, language, religion and mind/body. This second edition expands the perspectives of women of color, of postmodernism and French feminism, and focuses on the most recent controversies in feminist theory and philosophy. The (...)
  50. A Matter of Context: Casey and the Constitutionality of Compelled Physician Speech.Scott W. Gaylord - 2015 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 43 (1):35-50.
    Under the Supreme Court's compelled speech cases, the context of government-mandated disclosures determines the standard of review. Pursuant to Casey, Zauderer, and Whalen, compelled disclosures in the medical context, such as speech-and-display ultrasound laws, are subject to – and survive – a form of rational basis scrutiny.
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