Speech affordances: A structural take on how much we can do with our words

European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):879-891 (2016)

Authors
Saray Ayala López
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Abstract
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 cases in which speech capacity is undermined due to speaker's perceived social identity, e.g. episodes of silencing. Instead of appealing to interlocutors' implicit bias against speaker's identity, a structural approach refers to the positions interlocutors occupy in the social structure and the discursive conventions operating upon those positions. I articulate my proposal drawing on the notion of affordances. Each position within a social structure is associated with its own range of speech affordances. Thus, speech capacity is a function of the probability distribution of speech affordances across positions in the structure.
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DOI 10.1111/ejop.12186
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References found in this work BETA

How to Do Things with Words.John L. Austin - 1962 - Mind 75 (298):262-285.
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.James J. Gibson - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.

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