Derogatory Terms: Racism, Sexism and the Inferential Role Theory of Meaning

In Kelly Oliver & Christina Hendricks (eds.), Language and Liberation: Feminism, Philosophy and Language,. SUNY Press (1999)
Abstract
Derogatory terms (racist, sexist, ethnic, and homophobic epithets) are bully words with ontological force: they serve to establish and maintain a corrupt social system fuelled by distinctions designed to justify relations of dominance and subordination. No wonder they have occasioned public outcry and legal response. The inferential role analysis developed here helps move us away from thinking of the harms as being located in connotation (representing mere speaker bias) or denotation (holding that the terms fail to refer due to inaccurate descriptive content). The issue is not bad attitudes or referential misfires. An inferential role semantic analysis of derogatory terms shows exactly what is at stake between those who argue that the terms should be eliminated (Absolutists) and those who claim they can be successfully rehabilitated (Reclaimers). The Reclaimer maintains, and the Absolutist denies, that certain contexts can detach the derogatory force from deeply derogatory terms. The article looks at these claims with respect to ‘nigger’ and ‘dyke,’ setting out the inferential role of each term and examining detachability potential. Explaining detachability in terms of linguistic commitments, this article also addresses the issue of whether such terms count as political discourse, and examines the implications of that issue.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Slurs, Roles and Power.Mihaela Popa-Wyatt & Jeremy L. Wyatt - 2017 - Philosophical Studies:1-28.
Slurring Perspectives.Elisabeth Camp - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):330-349.
Slurs and Stereotypes.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):314-329.
Expressivism and the Offensiveness of Slurs.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):231-259.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index
2010-03-14

Total downloads
486 ( #4,064 of 2,193,778 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
41 ( #3,604 of 2,193,778 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature