The Social Account of Humour

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (2):81-93 (2021)
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Philosophical accounts of humour standardly account for humour in terms of what happens within a person. On these internalist accounts, humour is to be understood in terms of cognition, perception, and sensation. These accounts, while valuable, are poorly-situated to engage the social functions of humour. They have difficulty engaging why we value humour, why we use it define ourselves and our friendships, and why it may be essential to our self-esteem. In opposition to these internal accounts, I offer a social account of humour. This account approaches humour as a social practice. It foregrounds laughter and participation, and thereby gives an account of humour that helps to understand why we value humour, why we use it as we do, and why we use it to define our relationship to the world.

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