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Reference, inference and the semantics of pejoratives

In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), The Philosophy of David Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 137--159 (2009)

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  1. Slurs, Neutral Counterparts, and What You Could Have Said.Arianna Falbo - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy 1.
    Recent pragmatic accounts of slurs argue that the offensiveness of slurs is generated by a speaker's free choice to use a slur opposed to a more appropriate and semantically equivalent neutral counterpart. I argue that the theoretical role of neutral counterparts on such views is overstated. I consider two recent pragmatic analyses, Bolinger (2017) and Nunberg (2018), which rely heavily upon the optionality of slurs, namely, that a speaker exercises a deliberate lexical choice to use a slur when they could (...)
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  • A Drawback for Substitutional Arguments.Justina Diaz-Legaspe & Sennet Adam - 2021 - Language Sciences 88 (November).
    Competing theories on the semantics of group pejorative terms (also known as‘slurs’)comprise both advocates and opponents to the Identity Thesis (IT), according to whichthese terms and their neutral counterparts do not differ in semantic value. In the oppo-nents’camp, Christopher Hom has offered an argument based on substitution of slurs andneutral counterparts that both supports his semanticist approach and cast doubts on all IT-based approaches to slurs. We aim to point to a dilemma triggered by this argument based on evidence showing (...)
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  • Slurs under quotation.Stefan Rinner & Alexander Hieke - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-12.
    Against content theories of slurs, according to which slurs have some kind of derogatory content, Anderson and Lepore have objected that they cannot explain that even slurs under quotation can cause offense. If slurs had some kind of derogatory content, the argument goes, quotation would render this content inert and, thus, quoted slurs should not be offensive. Following this, Anderson and Lepore propose that slurs are offensive because they are prohibited words. In this paper, we will show that, pace Anderson (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering in Philosophy.Matti Eklund - 2021 - In Justin Khoo & Rachel Sterken (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social and Political Philosophy of Language.
  • 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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  • Generic Inferential Rules for Slurs: Dummett and Williamson on Ethnic Pejoratives.Pasi Valtonen - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6533-6551.
    Michael Dummett has proposed an influential analysis of the meaning of ethnic and racial slurs based on inferential rules. Timothy Williamson, however, finds the analysis problematic. It does not seem to explain how slurs are actually used. Williamson’s challenge for the inferentialist account of slurs has not gone unnoticed. In this article, I first discuss the debate between the inferentialists and Williamson. I argue that the inferentialist responses concentrate on the wrong issue and the real issue in Williamson’s challenge is (...)
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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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  • Multiple Propositions, Contextual Variability, and the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface.Arthur Sullivan - 2013 - Synthese 190 (14):2773-2800.
    A ‘multiple-proposition phenomenon’ is a putative counterexample to the widespread implicit assumption that a simple indicative sentence semantically expresses at most one proposition. Several philosophers and linguists have recently developed hypotheses concerning this notion. The guiding questions motivating this research are: Is there an interesting and homogenous semantic category of MP phenomena? If so, what is the import? Do MP theories have any relevance to important current questions in the study of language? I motivate an affirmative answer to, and then (...)
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  • Toward a Theory of Concept Mastery: The Recognition View.Gabriel Oak Rabin - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (3):627-648.
    Agents can think using concepts they do not fully understand. This paper investigates the question “Under what conditions does a thinker fully understand, or have mastery of, a concept?” I lay out a gauntlet of problems and desiderata with which any theory of concept mastery must cope. I use these considerations to argue against three views of concept mastery, according to which mastery is a matter of holding certain beliefs, being disposed to make certain inferences, or having certain intuitions. None (...)
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  • John Cook Wilson.Mathieu Marion - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    John Cook Wilson (1849–1915) was Wykeham Professor of Logic at New College, Oxford and the founder of ‘Oxford Realism’, a philosophical movement that flourished at Oxford during the first decades of the 20th century. Although trained as a classicist and a mathematician, his most important contribution was to the theory of knowledge, where he argued that knowledge is factive and not definable in terms of belief, and he criticized ‘hybrid’ and ‘externalist’ accounts. He also argued for direct realism in perception, (...)
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  • Semantic Minimalism and the “Miracle of Communication”.Endre Begby - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):957-973.
    According to semantic minimalism, context-invariant minimal semantic propositions play an essential role in linguistic communication. This claim is key to minimalists’ argument against semantic contextualism: if there were no such minimal semantic propositions, and semantic content varied widely with shifts in context, then it would be “miraculous” if communication were ever to occur. This paper offers a critical examination of the minimalist account of communication, focusing on a series of examples where communication occurs without a minimal semantic proposition shared between (...)
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  • The History and Prehistory of Natural-Language Semantics.Daniel W. Harris - 2017 - In Sandra Lapointe & Christopher Pincock (eds.), Innovations in the History of Analytical Philosophy. Palgrave-MacMillan. pp. 149--194.
    Contemporary natural-language semantics began with the assumption that the meaning of a sentence could be modeled by a single truth condition, or by an entity with a truth-condition. But with the recent explosion of dynamic semantics and pragmatics and of work on non- truth-conditional dimensions of linguistic meaning, we are now in the midst of a shift away from a truth-condition-centric view and toward the idea that a sentence’s meaning must be spelled out in terms of its various roles in (...)
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  • Into the Conventional-Implicature Dimension.Christopher Potts - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (4):665–679.
    Grice coined the term ‘conventional implicature’ in a short passage in ‘Logic and conversation’. The description is intuitive and deeply intriguing. The range of phenomena that have since been assigned this label is large and diverse. I survey the central factual motivation, arguing that it is loosely uni- fied by the idea that conventional implicatures contribute a separate dimen- sion of meaning. I provide tests for distinguishing conventional implicatures from other kinds of meaning, and I briefly explore ways in which (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Illocutionary Force and Attitude Mode in Normative Disputes.Teresa Marques - 2021 - Metaphilosophy (3-4):1-17.
    In this paper, I assess recent Stalnakerian views of communication in moral and normative domains. These views model context updates with normative claims. They also aim to explain how people disagree when they follow different norms or values. I present four problems for these Stalnakerian views. I conclude that the problems require a new conception of how common ground relates to illocutionary force and attitude mode, which is still lacking.
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  • What Are Thick Concepts?Matti Eklund - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):25-49.
    Many theorists hold that there is, among value concepts, a fundamental distinction between thin ones and thick ones. Among thin ones are concepts like good and right. Among concepts that have been regarded as thick are discretion, caution, enterprise, industry, assiduity, frugality, economy, good sense, prudence, discernment, treachery, promise, brutality, courage, coward, lie, gratitude, lewd, perverted, rude, glorious, graceful, exploited, and, of course, many others. Roughly speaking, thick concepts are value concepts with significant descriptive content. I will discuss a number (...)
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  • More on Pejorative Language: Insults That Go Beyond Their Extension.Elena Castroviejo, Katherine Fraser & Agustín Vicente - 2020 - Synthese 198 (10):9139-9164.
    Slurs have become a big topic of discussion both in philosophy and in linguistics. Slurs are usually characterised as pejorative terms, co-extensional with other, neutral, terms referring to ethnic or social groups. However, slurs are not the only ethnic/social words with pejorative senses. Our aim in this paper is to introduce a different kind of pejoratives, which we will call “ethnic/social terms used as insults”, as exemplified in Spanish, though present in many other languages and mostly absent in English. These (...)
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  • Slurs and Expressive Commitments.Leopold Hess - 2020 - 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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  • Semantic Contestations and the Meaning of Politically Significant Terms.Deborah Mühlebach - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (8):788-817.
    In recent discussions on the meaning of derogatory terms, most theorists base their investigations on the assumption that slurring terms could in principle have some neutral, i.e. purely descriptive, counterpart. Lauren Ashwell has recently shown that this assumption does not generalize to gendered slurs. This paper aims to challenge the point and benefit of approaching the meaning of derogatory terms in contrast to their allegedly purely descriptive counterparts. I argue that different discursive practices among different communities of practice sometimes change (...)
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  • A Dual Aspect Account of Moral Language.Caj Strandberg - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):87-122.
    It is often observed in metaethics that moral language displays a certain duality in as much as it seems to concern both objective facts in the world and subjective attitudes that move to action. In this paper, I defend The Dual Aspect Account which is intended to capture this duality: A person’s utterance of a sentence according to which φing has a moral characteristic, such as “φing is wrong,” conveys two things: The sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, (...)
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  • Political Vandalism as Counter‐Speech: A Defense of Defacing and Destroying Tainted Monuments.Ten‐Herng Lai - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):602-616.
    Tainted political symbols ought to be confronted, removed, or at least recontextualized. Despite the best efforts to achieve this, however, official actions on tainted symbols often fail to take place. In such cases, I argue that political vandalism—the unauthorized defacement, destruction, or removal of political symbols—may be morally permissible or even obligatory. This is when, and insofar as, political vandalism serves as fitting counter-speech that undermines the authority of tainted symbols in ways that match their publicity, refuses to let them (...)
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  • Expressivism and the Offensiveness of Slurs.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):231-259.
  • The Reliability Challenge and the Epistemology of Logic.Joshua Schechter - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):437-464.
    We think of logic as objective. We also think that we are reliable about logic. These views jointly generate a puzzle: How is it that we are reliable about logic? How is it that our logical beliefs match an objective domain of logical fact? This is an instance of a more general challenge to explain our reliability about a priori domains. In this paper, I argue that the nature of this challenge has not been properly understood. I explicate the challenge (...)
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  • Inescapable Articulations: Vessels of Lexical Effects.Una Stojnic & Ernie LePore - forthcoming - Noûs.
  • Slurs as ballistic speech.Richard P. Stillman - forthcoming - Synthese:1-17.
    Slurs are words with a well-known tendency to conjure up painful memories and experiences in members of their target communities. Owing to this tendency, it’s widely agreed that one ought to exercise considerable care when even mentioning a slur, so as to avoid needlessly inflicting distressing associations on members of the relevant group. This paper argues that this tendency to evoke distressing associations is precisely what makes slurs impactful verbal weapons. According to the ballistic theory, slurs make such potent insults (...)
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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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  • A Puzzle About Pejoratives.Christopher Hom - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):383-405.
    Pejoratives are the class of expressions that are meant to insult or disparage. They include swear words and slurs. These words allow speakers to convey emotional states beyond the truth-conditional contents that they are normally taken to encode. The puzzle arises because, although pejoratives seem to be a semantically unified class, some of their occurrences are best accounted for truth-conditionally, while others are best accounted for non-truth-conditionally. Where current, non-truth-conditional, views in the literature fail to provide a unified solution for (...)
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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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  • The Pragmatics of Slurs.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2017 - Noûs 51 (3):439-462.
    I argue that the offense generation pattern of slurring terms parallels that of impoliteness behaviors, and is best explained by appeal to similar purely pragmatic mechanisms. In choosing to use a slurring term rather than its neutral counterpart, the speaker signals that she endorses the term. Such an endorsement warrants offense, and consequently slurs generate offense whenever a speaker's use demonstrates a contrastive preference for the slurring term. Since this explanation comes at low theoretical cost and imposes few constraints on (...)
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  • Slurring Words.Luvell Anderson & Ernie Lepore - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):25-48.
  • Sarcasm, Pretense, and The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction.Elisabeth Camp - 2012 - Noûs 46 (4):587 - 634.
    Traditional theories of sarcasm treat it as a case of a speaker's meaning the opposite of what she says. Recently, 'expressivists' have argued that sarcasm is not a type of speaker meaning at all, but merely the expression of a dissociative attitude toward an evoked thought or perspective. I argue that we should analyze sarcasm in terms of meaning inversion, as the traditional theory does; but that we need to construe 'meaning' more broadly, to include illocutionary force and evaluative attitudes (...)
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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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  • Slurring Perspectives.Elisabeth Camp - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):330-349.
  • Moral and Semantic Innocence.Christopher Hom & Robert May - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):293-313.
  • Slurs and Stereotypes.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):314-329.
  • Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
  • Options for Hybrid Expressivism.Caj Strandberg - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):91-111.
    In contemporary metaethics, various versions of hybrid expressivism have been proposed according to which moral sentences express both non-cognitive attitudes and beliefs. One important advantage with such positions, its proponents argue, is that they, in contrast to pure expressivism, have a straightforward way of avoiding the Frege-Geach problem. In this paper, I provide a systematic examination of different versions of hybrid expressivism with particular regard to how they are assumed to evade this problem. The major conclusion is that none of (...)
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  • Explicatures Are NOT Cancellable.Alessandro Capone - 2013 - In Alessandro Capone, Franco Lo Piparo & Marco Carapezza (eds.), Perspectives on linguistic pragmatics. Springer. pp. 131-151.
    Explicatures are not cancellable. Theoretical considerations.
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  • Reasons and Causes in Psychiatry: Ideas From Donald Davidson’s Work.Elisabetta Lalumera - 2018 - In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History. Palgrave. pp. 281-296.
    Though the divide between reason-based and causal-explanatory approaches in psychiatry and psychopathology is old and deeply rooted, current trends involving multi-factorial explanatory models and evidence-based approaches to interpersonal psychotherapy, show that it has already been implicitly bridged. These trends require a philosophical reconsideration of how reasons can be causes. This paper contributes to that trajectory by arguing that Donald Davidson’s classic paradigm of 1963 is still a valid option.
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  • Implicature.Wayne Davis - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Meaning and Emotion.Constant Bonard - 2021 - Dissertation, Université de Genève
    This dissertation may be divided into two parts. The first part is about the Extended Gricean Model of information transmission. This model, introduced here, is meant to better explain how humans communicate and understand each other. It has been developed to apply to cases that were left unexplained by the two main models of communication found in contemporary philosophy and linguistics, i.e. the Gricean model and the code model. In particular, I show that these latter two models cannot apply to (...)
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  • Incoherentism and the Sorites Paradox.Matti Eklund - 2019 - In Elia Zardini & Sergi Oms (eds.), The Sorites Paradox.
  • 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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  • Slurs.Adam M. Croom - 2011 - Language Sciences 33:343-358.
    Slurs possess interesting linguistic properties and so have recently attracted the attention of linguists and philosophers of language. For instance the racial slur "nigger" is explosively derogatory, enough so that just hearing it mentioned can leave one feeling as if they have been made complicit in a morally atrocious act.. Indeed, the very taboo nature of these words makes discussion of them typically prohibited or frowned upon. Although it is true that the utterance of slurs is illegitimate and derogatory in (...)
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  • Loaded Words: On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Slurs.Kent Bach - unknown
    There are many mean and nasty things to say about mean and nasty talk, but I don't plan on saying any of them. There's a specific problem about slurring words that I want to address. This is a semantic problem. It's not very important compared to the real-world problems presented by bigotry, racism, discrimination, and worse. It's important only to linguistics and the philosophy of language.
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  • Mean and Nasty Talk: On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Slurs.Kent Bach - unknown
    Group slurs are applied to a whole category of people. Whereas slurs like jerk, creep, and hag are generally directed at individuals because of the personal traits (behavior, personality, looks, etc.), group slurs, like spic, commie, and infidel, are applied across the board to members of a category. Even when directed at a particular individual, ethnic, religious, and political slurs are applied on the basis of group membership rather than anything about the person in particular. Before asking about the meanings (...)
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  • Slurs: Departures From Genuine Uses and Derogation.Delia Belleri - 2020 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 62 (1):9-24.
    Some non-appropriated uses of slurs seem to be non–derogatory. In this paper, I argue that in a range of cases, the lack of derogation is owed to the term not being genuinely used. I first examine so–called pedagogical uses and show that they can be assimilated to what I call “distancing uses.” I then turn to a range of other apparently non–derogatory, non–appropriated uses of slurs – such as non–weapon uses, comedic uses – and argue that they can depart from (...)
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  • Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    [First published 09/2016; substantive revision 02/2021.] Evaluative terms and concepts are often divided into “thin” and “thick”. We don’t evaluate actions and persons merely as good or bad, or right or wrong, but also as kind, courageous, tactful, selfish, boorish, and cruel. The latter evaluative concepts are "descriptively thick": their application somehow involves both evaluation and a substantial amount of non-evaluative description. This article surveys various attempts to answer four fundamental questions about thick terms and concepts. (1) A “combination question”: (...)
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  • Refusing to Endorse. A Must Explanation for Pejoratives.Carlo Penco - 2018 - In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History. London: Palgrave. pp. 219-239.
    In her analysis of pejoratives, Eva Picardi rejects a too sharp separation between descriptive and expressive content. I reconstruct some of her arguments, endorsing Eva’s criticism of Williamson’s analysis of Dummett and developing a suggestion by Manuel Garcia Carpintero on a speech act analysis of pejoratives. Eva’s main concern is accounting for our instinctive refusal to endorse an assertion containing pejoratives because it suggests a picture of reality we do not share. Her stance might be further developed claiming that uses (...)
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