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  1. Slurs and Expressive Commitments.Leopold Hess - 2020 - Acta Analytica (2):1-28.
    Most accounts of the derogatory meaning of slurs are semantic. Recently, Nunberg proposed a purely pragmatic account offering a compelling picture of the relation between derogatory content and social context. Nunberg posits that the semantic content of slurs is identical to that of neutral counterparts, and that derogation is a result of the association of slur use with linguistic conventions of bigoted speakers. The mechanism responsible for it is a special kind of conversational implicature. However, this paper argues that Nunberg’s (...)
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  • Slurs and Expressive Commitments.Leopold Hess - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36 (2):263-290.
    Most accounts of the derogatory meaning of slurs are semantic. Recently, Nunberg proposed a purely pragmatic account offering a compelling picture of the relation between derogatory content and social context. Nunberg posits that the semantic content of slurs is identical to that of neutral counterparts, and that derogation is a result of the association of slur use with linguistic conventions of bigoted speakers. The mechanism responsible for it is a special kind of conversational implicature. However, this paper argues that Nunberg’s (...)
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  • Words in Motion: Slurs in Indirect Report.Maria Paola Tenchini - 2021 - Gestalt Theory 43 (2):153-166.
    Summary Slurs are pejorative epithets that express negative attitudes toward a class of individuals sharing the same race, country of origin, sexual orientation, religion, and the like. The aim of this paper is to show what happens in communication when slurs are reported. It focuses on the derogatory content of such expressions and on the persistence of their performative effects in reported speech. In this respect, the question concerning the attribution of responsibility for the derogatory content conveyed by the slurs (...)
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  • Pejoratives & Oughts.Teresa Marques - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (3):1109-1125.
    Chris Hom argued that slurs and pejoratives semantically express complex negative prescriptive properties, which are determined in virtue of standing in external causal relations to social ideologies and practices. He called this view Combinatorial Externalism. Additionally, he argued that Combinatorial Externalism entailed that slurs and pejoratives have null extensions. In this paper, I raise an objection that has not been raised in the literature so far. I argue that semantic theories like Hom’s are forced to choose between two alternatives: either (...)
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  • Emotive Equilibria.Elin McCready - 2012 - Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (3):243-283.
    Natural language contains many expressions with underspecified emotive content. This paper proposes a way to resolve such underspecification. Nonmonotonic inference over a knowledge base is used to derive an expected interpretation for emotive expressions in a particular context. This ‘normal’ meaning is then taken to influence the hearer’s expectations about probable interpretations, and, because of these probable interpretations, the decisions of the speaker about when use of underspecified emotive terms is appropriate.
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  • Slurs and Semantic Indeterminacy.Giuliano Torrengo - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (4):1617-1627.
    The analysis of the derogatory aspect of slurs has recently aroused interest among philosophers of language. A puzzling element of it is its erratic behaviour in embeddings, for instance negation or belief reports. The derogatory aspect seems sometimes to “scope out” from the embedding to the context of utterance, while at other times it seems to interact with the linguistic constructions in which the slur is implanted. I argue that slurs force us to maintain a kind of semantic indeterminacy which, (...)
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  • Epistemic Slurs: A Novel Explicandum and Adequacy Constraint for Slur Theories.Adam Patterson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    I argue that there are slurs that are distinctly derogatory insofar as they only derogate their target’s epistemic faculties or capacities qua group member. I call these slurs epistemic slurs. Given that slur theories should explain the derogatory nature of all slurs, any comprehensive slur theory should be able to explain the derogatory nature of the epistemic slurs. I argue, however, that two particular expressivist theories of slurs cannot explain their distinctive derogatory nature. The epistemic slurs thus constitute a novel (...)
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  • Emotive Equilibria.Eric McCready - 2012 - Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (3):243-283.
    Natural language contains many expressions with underspecified emotive content. This paper proposes a way to resolve such underspecification. Nonmonotonic inference over a knowledge base is used to derive an expected interpretation for emotive expressions in a particular context. This ‘normal’ meaning is then taken to influence the hearer’s expectations about probable interpretations, and, because of these probable interpretations, the decisions of the speaker about when use of underspecified emotive terms is appropriate.
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  • What’s Wrong with Truth-Conditional Accounts of Slurs.Bianca Cepollaro & Tristan Thommen - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):333-347.
    The aim of this paper is to provide arguments based on linguistic evidence that discard a truth-conditional analysis of slurs and pave the way for more promising approaches. We consider Hom and May’s version of TCA, according to which the derogatory content of slurs is part of their truth-conditional meaning such that, when slurs are embedded under semantic operators such as negation, there is no derogatory content that projects out of the embedding. In order to support this view, Hom and (...)
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  • What is a Slur?Justina Diaz-Legaspe - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1399-1422.
    Although there seems to be an agreement on what slurs are, many authors diverge when it comes to classify some words as such. Hence, many debates would benefit from a technical definition of this term that would allow scholars to clearly distinguish what counts as a slur and what not. Although the paper offers different definitions of the term in order to allow the reader to choose her favorite, I claim that ‘slurs’ is the name given to a grammatical category, (...)
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  • Pejorative Verbs and the Prospects for a Unified Theory of Slurs.Adam Sennet & David Copp - 2020 - Analytic Philosophy 61 (2):130-151.
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  • Normalizing Slurs and Out‐Group Slurs: The Case of Referential Restriction.Justina Diaz Legaspe - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (2):234-255.
    The relation between slurs and their neutral counterparts has been put into question recently by the fact that some slurs can be used to refer to subsets of the referential classes determined by their associated counterparts. This paper aims to reinforce this relation by offering a way of explaining referential restriction that distinguishes between two kinds of slurs: those performing a normalizing role upon (some) individuals inside a class (mostly, a gender) and those used to derogate a marginalized out- group.
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  • Pejoratives and Ways of Thinking.Adam Sennet & David Copp - 2017 - Analytic Philosophy 58 (3):248-271.
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  • It’s Not What You Said, It’s the Way You Said It: Slurs and Conventional Implicatures.Daniel Whiting - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):364-377.
    In this paper, I defend against a number of criticisms an account of slurs, according to which the same semantic content is expressed in the use of a slur as is expressed in the use of its neutral counterpart, while in addition the use of a slur conventionally implicates a negative, derogatory attitude. Along the way, I criticise competing accounts of the semantics and pragmatics of slurs, namely, Hom's 'combinatorial externalism' and Anderson and Lepore's 'prohibitionism'.
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  • Moral and Semantic Innocence.Christopher Hom & Robert May - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):293-313.
  • Slurs and Register: A Case Study in Meaning Pluralism.Justina Diaz-Legaspe, Chang Liu & Robert J. Stainton - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):156-182.
    Most theories of slurs fall into one of two families: those which understand slurring terms to involve special descriptive/informational content (however conveyed), and those which understand them to encode special emotive/expressive content. Our view is that both offer essential insights, but that part of what sets slurs apart is use-theoretic content. In particular, we urge that slurring words belong at the intersection of a number of categories in a sociolinguistic register taxonomy, one that usually includes [+slang] and [+vulgar] and always (...)
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  • Slurs as Illocutionary Force Indicators.Chang Liu - 2020 - Philosophia 49 (3):1051-1065.
    Slurs are derogatory words and they are used to derogate certain groups. Theories of slurs must explain why they are derogatory words, as well as other features like independence and descriptive ineffability. This paper proposes an illocutionary force indicator theory of slurs: they are derogatory terms because their use is to perform the illocutionary act of derogation, which is a declarative illocutionary act to enforce norms against the target. For instance, calling a Chinese person “chink” is an act of derogation (...)
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  • The Semantics of Slurs: A Refutation of Pure Expressivism.Adam M. Croom - 2014 - Language Sciences 41:227-242.
    In several recent contributions to the growing literature on slurs, Hedger draws upon Kaplan’s distinction between descriptive and expressive content to argue that slurs are expressions with purely expressive content. The distinction between descriptive and expressive content and the view that slurs are expressions with purely expressive content has been widely acknowledged in prior work, and Hedger aims to contribute to this tradition of scholarship by offering novel arguments in support of his ‘‘pure expressivist’’ account of slurs. But the account (...)
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  • Subordinating Speech and the Construction of Social Hierarchies.Michael Randall Barnes - 2019 - Dissertation, Georgetown University
    This dissertation fits within the literature on subordinating speech and aims to demonstrate that how language subordinates is more complex than has been described by most philosophers. I argue that the harms that subordinating speech inflicts on its targets (chapter one), the type of authority that is exercised by subordinating speakers (chapters two and three), and the expansive variety of subordinating speech acts themselves (chapter three) are all under-developed subjects in need of further refinement—and, in some cases, large paradigm shifts. (...)
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  • Slurs, Stereotypes and Insults.Eleonora Orlando & Andrés Saab - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (4):599-621.
    This paper is about paradigmatic slurs, i.e. expressions that are prima facie associated with the expression of a contemptuous attitude concerning a group of people identified in terms of its origin or descent, race, sexual orientation, ethnia or religion, gender, etc. Our purpose is twofold: explaining their expressive meaning dimension in terms of a version of stereotype semantics and analysing their original and most typical uses as insults, which will be called with a neologism ‘insultive’, in terms of a speech (...)
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  • Una aproximación lexicográfica a los insultos de grupo en Uruguay.Ana Clara Polakof & Andrés de Azevedo - 2020 - Textos En Proceso 6 (1).
    El presente trabajo tiene por cometido incursionar en el estudio de los insultos de grupo –expresiones lingüísticas utilizadas para expresar una actitud peyorativa hacia una persona como integrante de un colectivo– desde un abordaje lexicográfico. Tal perspectiva toma algunos posicionamientos y planteos del debate actual sobre los insultos de grupo provenientes de la filosofía del lenguaje con el fin de iluminar sus posibles consecuencias en la confección y análisis de los diccionarios. Sobre la base de Pullum, y el empleo de (...)
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  • Contexts as Shared Commitments.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
    Contemporary semantics assumes two influential notions of context: one coming from Kaplan (1989), on which contexts are sets of predetermined parameters, and another originating in Stalnaker (1978), on which contexts are sets of propositions that are “common ground”. The latter is deservedly more popular, given its flexibility in accounting for context-dependent aspects of language beyond manifest indexicals, such as epistemic modals, predicates of taste, and so on and so forth; in fact, properly dealing with demonstratives (perhaps ultimately all indexicals) requires (...)
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  • Pejoratives as Fiction.Christopher Hom & Robert May - 2018 - In David Sosa (ed.), Bad Words. Oxford University Press.
    Fictional terms are terms that have null extensions, and in this regard pejorative terms are a species of fictional terms: although there are Jews, there are no kikes. That pejoratives are fictions is the central consequence of the Moral and Semantic Innocence (MSI) view of Hom et al. (2013). There it is shown that for pejoratives, null extensionality is the semantic realization of the moral fact that no one ought to be the target of negative moral evaluation solely in virtue (...)
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  • Pejoratives.Christopher Hom - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (2):164-185.
    The norms surrounding pejorative language, such as racial slurs and swear words, are deeply prohibitive. Pejoratives are typically a means for speakers to express their derogatory attitudes. As these attitudes vary along many dimensions and magnitudes, they initially appear to be resistant to a truth-conditional, semantic analysis. The goal of the paper is to clarify the essential linguistic phenomena surrounding pejoratives, survey the logical space of explanatory theories, evaluate each with respect to the phenomena and provide a preliminary assessment of (...)
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  • Semantic Innocence and Kaplanian Inferences.Pasi Valtonen - 2019 - SATS 20 (1):19-33.
    The core of Christopher Hom and Robert May’s semantic innocence is the thesis that ethnic slurs have empty extensions. Thereby, a slurring term makes any non-negated slurring sentence false. At the same time, Hom and May emphasise that the most important task in the study of slurs is to explain non-xenophobic understanding of slurs. In this paper, I argue that there is a conflict between the two claims. I show this with Kaplanian inferences, which, in my view, are crucial for (...)
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  • INDIRECT REPORTS, SLURS, AND THE POLYPHONIC SPEAKER.Capone Alessandro - 2014 - Reti, Saperi, Linguaggi: Italian Journal of Cognitive Sciences 2:301-318.
  • Remarks on The Semantics of Racial Slurs.Adam M. Croom - 2014 - Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 13:11-32.
    In “The Semantics of Racial Slurs,” an article recently published in Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, Hedger draws upon Kaplan’s distinction between descriptive and expressive content to argue that slurs are expressions with purely expressive content. Here I review the key considerations presented by Hedger in support of his purely expressive account of slurs and provide clear reasons for why it must ultimately be rejected. After reviewing the key cases Hedger offers for consideration in support of his view that slurs are (...)
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  • In Defense of a Presuppositional Account of Slurs.Bianca Cepollaro - 2015 - Language Sciences 52:36-45.
    Abstract In the last fifteen years philosophers and linguists have turned their attention to slurs: derogatory expressions that target certain groups on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality and so on. This interest is due to the fact that, on the one hand, slurs possess puzzling linguistic properties; on the other hand, the questions they pose are related to other crucial issues, such as the descriptivism/expressivism divide, the semantics/pragmatics divide and, generally speaking, the theory of meaning. Despite these (...)
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  • Slurs, Roles and Power.Mihaela Popa-Wyatt & Jeremy L. Wyatt - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2879-2906.
    Slurring is a kind of hate speech that has various effects. Notable among these is variable offence. Slurs vary in offence across words, uses, and the reactions of audience members. Patterns of offence aren’t adequately explained by current theories. We propose an explanation based on the unjust power imbalance that a slur seeks to achieve. Our starting observation is that in discourse participants take on discourse roles. These are typically inherited from social roles, but only exist during a discourse. A (...)
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  • Emociones, ofensa y registro sociolingüístico: el caso de los “usos distantes” de los términos discriminatorios.Justina Diaz Legaspe & Robert Stainton - 2020 - Critica 51 (153):3-29.
    Existe un tipo particular de usos de términos discriminatorios en el que las emociones negativas típicamente asociadas a él no se hallan de hecho presentes. Aun así, lo incorrecto o inadecuado sigue resonando en esos usos. Este tipo de ``uso distante'' resulta interesante per se, en cuanto fenómeno conversacional rara vez advertido. Sin embargo, también presta apoyo a una aproximación a los términos discriminatorios basada en el concepto sociolingüístico de ``registro'', de la cual se sigue esta relación entre emociones e (...)
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  • Pejorative Terms and the Semantic Strategy.E. Diaz-Leon - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (1):23-34.
    Christopher Hom has recently argued that the best-overall account of the meaning of pejorative terms is a semantic account according to which pejoratives make a distinctive truth-conditional contribution, and in particular express complex, negative socially constructed properties. In addition, Hom supplements the semantic account with a pragmatic strategy to deal with the derogatory content of occurrences of pejorative terms in negations, conditionals, attitude reports, and so on, according to which those occurrences give rise to conversational implicatures to the effect that (...)
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  • Por Que o Expressivismo Puro Não Funciona Para Injúrias?Rogério Corrêa - 2018 - Dissertatio 47 (S6):106-127.
    O expressivismo puro divide as expressões entre as que possuem apenas conteúdo descritivo e as que possuem apenas conteúdo expressivo. As primeiras, mas não as segundas, são aptas à verdade e à falsidade. Hedger aplica esta distinção às injúrias e, como resultado, elas são consideradas termos com conteúdo puramente expressivo. O seu argumento geral baseia-se no teste de projeção de comportamento de injúrias e em quatro evidências. Nesse sentido, se é verdade que injúrias raciais não são expressões com conteúdo puramente (...)
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  • Pejorative Discourse is Not Fictional.Teresa Marques - 2017 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy (4):1-14.
    Hom and May (2015) argue that pejoratives mean negative prescriptive properties that externally depend on social ideologies, and that this entails a form of fictionalism: pejoratives have null extensions. There are relevant uses of fictional terms that are necessary to describe the content of fictions, and to make true statements about the world, that do not convey that speakers are committed to the fiction. This paper shows that the same constructions with pejoratives typically convey that the speaker is committed to (...)
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