Practices of Slur Use

Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1):86-105 (2020)
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Given the apparent nondisplaceability and noncancellability of the derogatory content of slurs, it may appear puzzling that non-derogatory uses of slurs exist. Moreover, these uses seem to be in general available only to in-group speakers, thereby exhibiting a peculiar kind of context-sensitivity. In this paper the author argues that to understand non-derogatory uses we should consider slurs in terms of the kind of social practice their uses instantiate. A suitable theory of social practices has been proposed by McMillan. In typical uses the practice is one of bigotry and discrimination. Non-derogatory uses are only possible to the extent that they consitute acts of an alternative, non-derogatory practice. In the core cases it must be a subversive practice of satire or reappropriation. The social identity of speakers is not an ultimately decisive factor but it is an important constitutive condition: most non-derogatory practices of slur-use can only be performed by a member of the target group.



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Leopold Hess
Jagiellonian University

Citations of this work

A rich-lexicon theory of slurs and their uses.Dan Zeman - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):942-966.
The Politics of Language.David Beaver & Jason Stanley - 2023 - Princeton University Press.
Slurs and Expressive Commitments.Leopold Hess - 2020 - Acta Analytica 36 (2):263-290.
Slurs under quotation.Stefan Rinner & Alexander Hieke - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1483-1494.

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References found in this work

The Constitution of Social Practices.Kevin McMillan - 2017 - Milton Park, UK; New York, USA: Routledge.

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