Slurs Are Directives

Philosophers' Imprint 19:1-28 (2019)
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Abstract

Recent work on the semantics and pragmatics of slurs has explored a variety of ways of explaining their potential to derogate, with the most popular family of approaches appealing to either: (i), the doxastic or evaluative attitudes or commitments expressed by — or (ii), the propositions concerning such attitudes or commitments semantically or pragmatically communicated by — the speakers who use them. I begin by arguing that no such speaker-oriented approach can be correct. I then propose an alternative treatment of slurs, according to which they are semantically associated with both descriptive and directive content. On the view I defend, when speakers use slurs, they simultaneously propose to add an at-issue proposition to the conversational common ground and issue a not-at-issue directive to their interlocutors to adopt a derogatory perspective toward members of the targeted group. This proposal both avoids the problems faced by other accounts and opens up a novel way of thinking about the phenomenon of appropriation.

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Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini
Rutgers University - Newark

Citations of this work

Reviving the Performative Hypothesis?Peter van Elswyk - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (4):240-248.
Hate Speech.Luvell Anderson & Michael Randall Barnes - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Peyorativos de Grupo Y Discurso de Odio.Nicolás Lo Guercio - 2021 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 62 (150):747-776.

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