Derogatoryterms (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 derogatoryterms 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 derogatoryterms. 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. (shrink)
This chapter examines the role played by derogatoryterms (e.g., ‘inyenzi’ or cockroach, ‘inzoka’ or snake) in laying the social groundwork for the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. The genocide was preceded by an increase in the use of anti-Tutsi derogatoryterms among the Hutu. As these linguistic practices evolved, the terms became more openly and directly aimed at Tutsi. Then, during the 100 days of the genocide, derogatoryterms and (...) coded euphemisms were used to direct killers to their victims. Understanding these speech acts helps to illuminate the important ways that power is enacted through discourse, how speech acts can prepare the way for physical and material acts, and how speech generates permissions for actions hitherto uncountenanced. Studying the role of speech acts and linguistic practices in laying the groundwork of the genocide illuminates how patterns of speech acts become linguistic practices that constitute permissibility conditions for non-linguistic behaviors. Further, the analysis presented here helps to make sense of the view that a steady, deep, and widespread derogation of a group can be part and parcel of genocide, not only an antecedent to it. (shrink)
Drawing on my recent work using inferential role semantics and elements of speech act theory to analyze the role of derogatoryterms (a.k.a. ‘hate speech’, or ‘slurs’) in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, as well as the role of certain kinds of reparative speech acts in post-genocide Rwanda, this paper highlights key pragmatist commitments that inform the methods and goals of this practical analysis of real world events. In “Genocidal Language Games”, I used conceptual tools (...) from Wittgenstein, Sellars, Lewis, and Brandom, with a nod to Searle’s concept of status-functions, to develop an analysis that helps to make sense of the view that a steady, deep, and widespread derogation of a group can at least partially constitute genocide, not only be an antecedent to it. In this paper, I sketch some of the tools and lessons of this project, with an eye to highlighting their pragmatist roots and the directions to which such real-world investigations lead. (shrink)
Derogatoryterms (racist, sexist, ethnic epithets) have long played various roles and achieved diverse ends in works of art. Focusing on basic aspects of an aesthetic object or work, this article examines the interpretive relation between point of view and content, asking how aesthetic contextualization shapes the impact of such terms. Can context, particularly aesthetic contexts, detach the derogatory force from powerful epithets and racist and sexist images? What would it be about aesthetic contexts that would (...) make this possible? The article puts into aesthetic contexts both Absolutist and Reclaimer views about the power of derogatoryterms, applying an inferential role semantics, developed for language, to both words and images. The Reclaimer’s position, that derogation is a matter of pragmatics, of use, emphasizes the context-sensitivity of the term, that is matters who says it, to whom, when, where, and why. Understanding derogatoryterms used as hate speech helps to make this position clear. The Absolutist’s position, that no contextual variations can detach the derogation from these deeply derogatoryterms, is developed here through attention to subordinating images in pornography. The article argues that art may be able to achieve the deviant interpretations that the Reclaimer needs to undermine the derogations while maintaining sensitivity and awareness of the history of oppression. (shrink)
Making sense of MacKinnon’s claim that pornography silences women requires attention to the discursive and interpretive frameworks that pornography establishes and promotes. Treating pornography as a form of hate speech is promising, but also limited. A close examination of a legal case, in which pornographic images were used to sexually harass, focuses on the hate speech analogy while illustrating the broad and lasting impact of such depictions when targeted at an individual. Applying the distinction between Absolutist and Reclaimer approaches to (...) hate speech and derogatoryterms, the article concludes with a discussion of the possibility of creative development of discursive practices within a context that undermines the semantic authority of members of certain groups. (shrink)
Obnoxious labels are derogatoryterms which speak extensively on the ignorant dispositions of scholars who either rush into faulty conclusions, or have prior decisions to promote class distinction through the uncomplimentary colours they paint of what others hold as divine, spiritual, and transcendental. For such derogatoryterms to gain wide audience in a globalized age explain the frame of mind of discordant voices which have been based on arm-chair scholarship. The thrust of this article therefore, is (...) to use Igbo experience to explore the problems of atheism and humanism in a globalized world. The exploratory research will help adopt cultural centred approach in analyzing the dichotomy between the various philosophical view points on God, spirits and man’s religious belief system in Igbo land in particular and Africa in general. It is hoped that the analyses of the challenges posed by atheism and humanism in a globalized world will balance ideas, views, attitudes and behaviour that will reposition Igbo religious beliefs, values and practices in line with the proposed theistic humanism associated with Igbo culture in particular and African culture in general. This will breach the persisted conflict between the sacred and the secular pointing to a dynamic and progressive Igbo culture. (shrink)
This paper considers the problem of assigning meanings to empty natural kind terms. It does so in the context of the Twin-Earth externalist-internalist debate about whether the meanings of natural kind terms are individuated by the external physical environment of the speakers using these terms. The paper clarifies and outlines the different ways in which meanings could be assigned to empty natural kind terms. And it argues that externalists do not have the semantic resources to assign (...) them meanings. The paper ends on a sceptical note concerning the fruitfulness of using the Twin-Earth setting in debates about the semantics of empty natural kind terms. (shrink)
Ethicists are typically willing to grant that thick terms (e.g. ‘courageous’ and ‘murder’) are somehow associated with evaluations. But they tend to disagree about what exactly this relationship is. Does a thick term’s evaluation come by way of its semantic content? Or is the evaluation pragmatically associated with the thick term (e.g. via conversational implicature)? In this paper, I argue that thick terms are semantically associated with evaluations. In particular, I argue that many thick concepts (if not all) (...) conceptually entail evaluative contents. The Semantic View has a number of outspoken critics, but I shall limit discussion to the most recent--Pekka Väyrynen--who believes that objectionable thick concepts present a problem for the Semantic View. After advancing my positive argument in favor of the Semantic View (section II), I argue that Väyrynen’s attack is unsuccessful (section III). One reason ethicists cite for not focusing on thick concepts is that such concepts are supposedly not semantically evaluative whereas traditional thin concepts (e.g. good and wrong) are. But if my view is correct, then this reason must be rejected. (shrink)
A paradigmatic case of rigidity for singular terms is that of proper names. And it would seem that a paradigmatic case of rigidity for general terms is that of natural kind terms. However, many philosophers think that rigidity cannot be extended from singular terms to general terms. The reason for this is that rigidity appears to become trivial when such terms are considered: natural kind terms come out as rigid, but so do all (...) other general terms, and in particular all descriptive general terms. This paper offers an account of rigidity for natural kind terms which does not trivialise in this way. On this account, natural kind terms are de jure obstinately rigid designators and other general terms, such as descriptive general terms, are not. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that natural kind terms constitute a distinct semantic category. This idea emerged during the 1970's following Kripke's and Putnam's well-known remarks on natural kind terms. The idea has stayed with us, although it is now recognized that the issues are considerably more complex than initially thought. Thus, it has become clear that much of Kripke's and Putnam's discussions were based on rather simplified views of natural kinds. It also turns out that the semantic issues (...) are less straightforward than assumed - in particular, it is far from clear what it might mean to say that a kind term is rigid. Strikingly, however, these worries have not done much to undermine the confident assumption that natural kind terms form a special semantic category. In the paper I try to shake that confidence. I argue that although natural kind terms are no doubt important (for instance, from an explanatory point of view), we are certainly not warranted in concluding that they form a separate, semantic category among the kind terms. (shrink)
When new theoretical terms are introduced into scientific discourse, prevailing accounts imply, analytic or semantic truths come along with them, by way of either definitions or reference-fixing descriptions. But there appear to be few or no analytic truths in scientific theory, which suggests that the prevailing accounts are mistaken. This paper looks to research on the psychology of natural kind concepts to suggest a new account of the introduction of theoretical terms that avoids both definition and reference-fixing description. (...) At the core of the account is a novel psychological process that I call introjection. (shrink)
Research on female stereotypes in online advertisements is particularly scant, and thus, we lack evidence on whether women are depicted in derogatory (stereotypical) terms on the Internet or not. This theme has significant ethical implications. Hence, the objectives of this study are: (1) to provide evidence on female role portrayals in online advertisements of global products, and (2) to explore female role portrayals across web pages for different audience types. The results indicate that women are generally portrayed in (...) a stereotypical way, supporting the notion that sexism is prevalent in online advertisements worldwide. Portrayal of women across web pages varies considerably, with female-audience web pages embracing “decorative” female images; male-audience web pages promoting polarizing depictions of women in “dependent” or “non-traditional” roles; and general-audience web pages using portrayals of women as housewives or equal to men. Overall, the findings suggest that “traditional” or “decorative” stereotypes are largely evident in all three audience types, although some “non-traditional” roles may occur. Implications and future research directions are discussed. (shrink)
The paper argues that an important class of aesthetic terms cannot be used as metaphors because it is impossible to commit a category mistake with them. It then uses this fact to provide a general definition of 'aesthetic property'.
In lecture III of Naming and Necessity, Kripke extends his claim that names are non-descriptive to natural kind terms, and in so doing includes a brief supporting discussion of terms for natural phenomena, in particular the terms ‘light’ and ‘heat’. Whilst natural kind terms continue to feature centrally in the recent literature, natural phenomenon terms have barely figured. The purpose of the present paper is to show how the apparent similarities between natural kind terms (...) and the natural phenomenon terms on which Kripke focuses are outweighed by more significant differences. Thus, rather than providing additional support for non-descriptivism, natural phenomenon terms turn out to challenge that thesis. (shrink)
The problem of empty terms is one of the focal issues in analytic philosophy. Russell’s theory of descriptions, a proposal attempting to solve this problem, attracted much attention and is considered a hallmark of the analytic tradition. Scholars of Indian and Buddhist philosophy, e.g., McDermott, Matilal, Shaw and Perszyk, have studied discussions of empty terms in Indian and Buddhist philosophy. But most of these studies rely heavily on the Nyāya or Navya-Nyāya sources, in which Buddhists are portrayed as (...) opponents to be defeated, and thus do not truly reflect Buddhist views on this issue. The present paper will explore how Dignāga, the founder of Buddhist logic, deals with the issue of empty subject terms. His approach is subtle and complicated. On the one hand, he proposes a method of paraphrase that resembles Russell’s theory of descriptions. On the other, by relying on his philosophy of language—the apoha theory, he tends to fall into a panfictionalism. Through the efforts of his follower Dharmakīrti, the latter approach would become more acceptable among Indian and Tibetan Buddhists. Dignāga’s Chinese commentators, who were free from the influence of Dharmakīrti, dealt with the empty term issue in three ways: (1) by adhering to Dignāga’s method of paraphrase; (2) by allowing exceptions for non-implicative negation; and (3) by indicating the propositional attitude of a given proposition. Among these, the third proved most popular. (shrink)
According to Putnam the reference of natural kind terms is fixed by the world, at least partly; whether two things belong to the same kind depends on whether they obey the same objective laws. We show that Putnam's criterion of substance identity only "works" if we read "objective laws" as "OBJECTIVE LAWS". Moreover, at least some of the laws of some of the special sciences have to be included. But what we consider to be good special sciences and what (...) not depends upon our values. Hence, "objective laws" cannot be read as "OBJECTIVE LAWS". It follows that the reference of natural kind terms cannot be fixed by the world, not even partly. The final conclusion applies to a variety of realisms. (shrink)
Since Hilary Putnam and Saul Kripke's first attacks on traditional, descriptivist theories of natural kind terms, it has become customary to speak of the ‘Putnam-Kripke’ view of meaning and reference. This article argues that this is a mistake, and that Putnam's account of natural kind terms is importantly different from that of Kripke. In particular, Putnam has from the very start been sceptical of Kripke's modal claims, and in later papers he explicitly rejects the proposal that theoretical identity (...) statements are metaphysically necessary (if true). I suggest that this is wholly in line with Putnam's earlier, Quine-inspired writings on general terms, and his preoccupation with the philosophy of science. Moreover, I argue that the picture of general terms that emerges from Putnam's writings is more plausible than that suggested by Kripke. However, contrary to Putnam, I also suggest that Putnam's later views on natural kinds and natural kind terms do not support standard Twin Earth externalism. (shrink)
Neo-Fregeans take their argument for arithmetical realism to depend on the availability of certain, so-called broadly syntactic tests for whether a given expression functions as a singular term. The broadly syntactic tests proposed in the neo-Fregean tradition are the so-called inferential test and the Aristotelian test. If these tests are to subserve the neo-Fregean argument, they must be at least adequate, in the sense of correctly classifying paradigm cases of singular terms and non-singular terms. In this paper, I (...) pursue two main goals. On the one hand, I show that the tests’ current state-of-the-art formulations are inadequate and, hence, cannot subserve the neo-Fregean argument. On the other hand, I propose revisions that are adequate and, hence, can subserve this argument. (shrink)
The relative merits of standard mereology have received quite a bit of attention in recent years from metaphysicians concerned with the part/whole properties of material objects. A question that has not been pursued to the same degree, however, is what sort of semantic repercussions a commitment to mereological sums in the standard sense might have in particular on the predicted behavior of singular terms and our practices of using such terms to refer to objects. The apparent mismatch between (...) our actual referential practices and the persistence conditions attributed to material objects by the supporters of standard mereology puts these philosophers, other things being equal, at a disadvantage compared to those whose ontology matches more closely the observed behavior of singular terms, as they are commonly used in ordinary discourse. To alleviate this problem, David Lewis leans heavily on his distinction between natural and non-natural properties. I argue in this paper that Lewis’ already heavily burdened natural/non-natural distinction among properties is not enough to avoid Quinean indeterminacy for singular terms. Those who are in the business of giving an analysis of constructions involving full-fledged predication, as opposed to the mere spatial overlap of denotations, will thus want to go in for an ontology that places more stringent structural constraints on the referents of singular terms than would be supplied by standard mereology. (shrink)
This paper addresses recent literature on rigid designation and natural kind terms that draws on the inferentialist approaches of Sellars and Brandom, among others. Much of the orthodox literature on rigidity may be seen as appealing, more or less explicitly, to a semantic form of “the given” in Sellars’s terms. However, the important insights of that literature may be reconstructed and articulated in terms more congenial to the Pittsburgh school of normative functionalism.
We defend the view that defines the rigidity of general terms as sameness of designated universal across possible worlds from the objection that such a characterization is incapable of distinguishing rigid from non-rigid readings of general terms and, thus, that it trivializes the notion of rigidity. We also argue that previous attempts to offer a solution to the trivialization problem do no succeed.
The paper discusses whether the color terms should be given an externalist semantics. In the literature on the semantics of color terms externalism is standardly taken for granted, and Twin Earth style arguments play a central role. This is notable given that few people would claim that semantic externalism applies across the board, to all types of terms. Why, then, should the color terms belong with this group of terms? I argue that the standard externalist (...) strategies, introduced by Tyler Burge and Hilary Putnam, do not apply to these terms: The color terms do not function like natural kind terms, and the idea of semantic reliance on others does not apply to them. I conclude that the externalist arguments fail and that a version of internalism, more properly called ‘individualism’,applies to the color terms. (shrink)
Horror film sequels have not received as much serious critical attention as they deserve – this is especially true of the Saw franchise, which has suffered a general dismissal under the derogatory banner ‘Torture Porn’. In this article I use detailed textual analysis of the Saw series to expound how film sequels employ and complicate expected temporal and spatial relations – in particular, I investigate how the Saw sequels tie space and time into their narrative, methodological and moral sensibilities. (...) Far from being a gimmick or a means of ensuring loyalty to the franchise (one has to be familiar with the events of previous episodes to ascertain what is happening), it is my contention that the Saw cycle directly requests that we examine the nature of space and time, in terms of both cinematic technique and our lived, off-screen temporal/spatial orientations. -/- . (shrink)
In an article published in 2003, Klaus Jacobi—using texts partially edited in De Rijk's _Logica Modernorum_—demonstrated that twelfth-century logic contains a tradition of reflecting about some of the transcendental names. In addition to reinforcing Jacobi's thesis with other texts, this contribution aims to demonstrate two points: 1) That twelfth-century logical reflection about transcendental terms has its origin in the _logica vetus_, and especially in a passage from Porphyry _Isagoge_ and in Boethius's commentary on it. In spite of the loss (...) of the major part of the Aristotelian corpus, the twelfth-century masters in logic still received some Aristotelian theses concerning the notions of one and being via Porphyry and Boethius; on the basis of such theses, they were able to elaborate a sort of proto-theory of the transcendentals as trans-categorical terms. 2) That this theory is centred on the idea that there exists a particular group of names which have the property that they can be said of everything; this group includes "being", "one", "thing" and "something". Twelfth-century masters in logic try to question the thesis that these terms are equivocal, although they do not deny it completely. (shrink)
In his paper, “Aesthetic Terms, Metaphor and the Nature of Aesthetic Properties”, Rafael De Clercq claims to offer a category-based explanation of the metaphorical uninterpretability of aesthetic terms, and establish that the concept of an aesthetic property is fully analyzable in non-aesthetic terms. Both would be interesting and noteworthy achievements if accomplished. However, I argue in this discussion piece that he fails to achieve either goal.
In this article, I start with the observation that aesthetic terms resist metaphorical interpretation; that is, it makes little sense to say that something is beautiful metaphorically speaking or to say something is metaphorically elegant, harmonious, or sublime. I argue that aesthetic terms’ lack of metaphorical interpretations is not explained by the fact that their applicability is not limited to a particular category of objects, at least in the standard sense of ‘category.’ In general, I challenge category-based accounts (...) of metaphorical interpretability and instead offer an alternative explanation for aesthetic terms’ lack of metaphorical interpretations, one that involves the notion of context shifts rather than category violations. I argue that what is required for metaphorical interpretability is the joint satisfaction of two conditions: multidimensionality and the presence of a default dimension. Aesthetic terms lack metaphorical readings because they fail to satisfy, even though they satisfy. I argue that the alternative account I offer is predictively adequate, more parsimonious, less subject to counterexamples, and hence preferable to the category-based one. (shrink)
This article analyses the tradition of “articulating xing in terms of sheng ” and related other expressions, and also examines the debate between Mencius and Gaozi concerning “ xing is known by sheng .” It claims that while Mencius’ “human nature is good” discourse is influenced by the interpretive tradition of “articulating xing in terms of sheng ”, Mencius also transcends and develops this tradition. Therefore it is only when Mencius’ views about the goodness of human nature are (...) understood in the context of this interpretive tradition that his ideas can be fully understood. Utilizing this framework, the Confucian understanding of rights is then explored. (shrink)
According to Michael Devitt, the primary work of a rigidity distinction for kind terms is to distinguish non-descriptional predicates from descriptional predicates. The standard conception of rigidity fails to do this work when it is extended to kind terms. Against the standard conception, Devitt defends rigid application: a predicate is a rigid applier iff, if it applies to an object in one world, it applies to that object in every world in which it exists. Devitt maintains that rigid (...) application does the job of identifying nondescriptional predicates perfectly. I argue that Devitt is wrong about this. When we examine more closely alternative theories about the identity and persistence conditions of those entities to which mass terms apply, we find no plausible theory that has the result that a term is rigid iff it is non-descriptional. (shrink)
This article analyses the tradition of "articulating xing in terms of sheng" and related other expressions, and also examines the debate between Mencius and Gaozi concerning "xing is known by sheng" It claims that while Mencius' "human nature is good" discourse is influenced by the interpretive tradition of "articulating xing in terms of sheng", Mencius also transcends and develops this tradition. Therefore it is only when Mencius' views about the goodness of human nature are understood in the context (...) of this interpretive tradition that his ideas can be fully understood. Utilizing this framework, the Confucian understanding of rights is then explored. /// 通过对"以生言性"的传统及其不同命题表述的详尽分析，对孟子、告子"生 之谓性"的辩论做出梳理，指出孟子性善论一方面受到了"以生言性"传统的影响， 另一方面则超越、发展了这一传统，故只有将孟子性善论放在"以生言性"的传统 下才能得到真正的理解。从这一角度出发，为探讨儒家的权利观念提供了可能。. (shrink)
Alfred Tarski's (1936) semantic account of the logical properties (logical consequence, logical truth and logical consistency) makes essential appeal to a distinction between logical and non-logical terms. John Etchemendy (1990) has recently argued that Tarski's account is inadequate for quite a number of different reasons. Among them is a brief argument which purports to show that Tarski's reliance on the distinction between logical and non-logical terms is in principle mistaken. According to Etchemendy, there are very simple (even first (...) order) languages for which no such distinction can be made. This is a surprising result, and an important one, if true. Since Tarski's account does indeed depend on such a distinction, Etchemendy's argument, if correct, would rule out definitively the received view on logical truth (as well as logical consequence and logical consistency). But his argument is not correct, and it is the job of this paper to show that. (shrink)
From the perspectives of foreign-Chinese bilingual law dictionaries, Chinese-foreign bilingual law dictionaries, and monolingual Chinese law dictionaries, this paper reviews the compilation and publication of law dictionaries in China over the past six decades following the founding of New China in 1949, especially over the past three decades after the policy of reform and opening up was adopted in 1978. This paper reevaluates the translated legal terms covered and defined in the Legal Dictionary of the Soviet Union, Law Dictionary, (...) Oxford Large Dictionary of Law, Chinese-English Glossary of Terms of Laws and Regulations of People’s Republic of China and English-Chinese Dictionary of Anglo-American Law to analyze the roles of law dictionaries on the standardization of the translated Chinese legal terms. (shrink)
Legal terms have a special status at the interface between language and law. Adopting the general framework developed by Jackendoff and the concepts competence and performance as developed by Chomsky, it is shown that legal terms cannot be fully accounted for unless we set up a category of abstract objects. This idea corresponds largely to the classical view of terminology, which has been confronted with some challenges recently. It is shown that for legal terms, arguments against abstract (...) objects are not pertinent. As abstract objects are not natural, it is important to consider their creation. Two types of creation are distinguished and illustrated, one for new concepts and one for terms corresponding to existing general language concepts. In the latter case, it is important for the abstract object to remain close enough to the intuitive prototype. At the same time, legal terms as abstract objects are shown to have a natural place in relation to legal theory. (shrink)
Pupils' nicknames for teachers are typically clandestine and serve a reference function rather than acting as terms of address. Despite being a ubiquitous feature of school life, they have attracted little research. This questionnaire study explores characteristics of the use of nicknames as recalled by a sample of 103 university students. Most nicknames expressed contempt or dislike, or attempted to get back or get even, or to put one over on the teacher. The majority of names drew upon physical (...) characteristics of the target person. Although nicknames were derogatory in intent, aptness, wit and cleverness are seen as important characteristics; specifically, wit and aptness seem to have a moderating effect on the offensiveness of nicknames. (shrink)
In the present paper some tools are given to state the exact number of roots for some simple classes of exponential terms . The result were obtained by generalizing Sturm's technique for real closed fields. Moreover for arbitrary non-zero terms t certain estimations concerning the location of roots of t are given. MSC: 03C65, 03C60, 12L12.
The present study starts from the question if there can be any logic of religion. The answer is affirmative for logic in a wide sense. The attempts from the logic of beliefs account for this. However, the study focuses on the specific of the logic of religious terms, a less approached domain by logicians and philosophers. In this line issues like those of the logic of analogy, of the distinctions between the specific, general and total content of terms, (...) between logical distributive and collective conjunctions, etc are brought into discussion. In the end, dogmatic concepts are analyzed, as the core of religious concepts. (shrink)
Assuming “Schanuel's Condition” for a certain class of exponential fields, Sturm's technique for polynomials in real closed fields can be extended to more complicated exponential terms in the corresponding exponential field. Hence for this class of terms the exact number of zeros can be calculated. These results give deeper insights into the model theory of exponential fields. MSC: 03C65, 03C60, 12L12.
This article is a critical notice of Bob Hale and Crispin Wright's *The Reason's Proper Study* (OUP). It focuses particularly on their attempts (crucial to their neo-logicist project) to say what a singular term is. I identify problems for their account but include some constructive suggestions about how it might be improved.
In constructing semantic theories of normative and evaluative terms, philosophers have commonly deployed a certain type of disagreement -based argument. The premise of the argument observes the possibility of genuine disagreement between users of a certain normative or evaluative term, while the conclusion of the argument is that, however differently those speakers employ the term, they must mean the same thing by it. After all, if they did not, then they would not really disagree. We argue that in many (...) of the cases in which this argument is deployed, the conclusion not only fails to follow from the premises, but is very likely false. Disagreements between speakers who do not mean the same things by their words are common, genuine, and not easily distinguished from ordinary disagreements over the truth of literally expressed content. We make this case by developing the notion of a metalinguistic negotiation, an exchange in which speakers tacitly negotiate the proper deployment of some linguistic expression in a context. Metalinguistic negotiations express disagreements over information that is conveyed pragmatically and about what concepts should be deployed in the context at hand. We argue that neither of these features poses any obstacle to metalinguistic negotiations serving to express genuine, substantive disagreements that can be well worth engaging in. Contrary to what has been widely assumed in the literature, many normative and evaluative disputes—among ordinary speakers and even among philosophers themselves—may be of exactly this type, a conclusion with important consequences for both the subject matter and the methodology of metanormative theory. (shrink)
According to republican theory, we are free persons to the extent that we are protected and secured in the same fundamental choices, on the same public basis, as one another. But there is no public protection or security without a coercive state. Does this mean that any freedom we enjoy is a superficial good that presupposes a deeper, political form of subjection? Philip Pettit addresses this crucial question in On the People's Terms. He argues that state coercion will not (...) involve individual subjection or domination insofar as we enjoy an equally shared form of control over those in power. This claim may seem utopian but it is supported by a realistic model of the institutions that might establish such democratic control. Beginning with a fresh articulation of republican ideas, Pettit develops a highly original account of the rationale of democracy, breathing new life into democratic theory. (shrink)
Joseph LaPorte in an article on `Kind and Rigidity'(Philosophical Studies, Volume 97) resurrects an oldsolution to the problem of how to understand the rigidityof kind terms and other general terms. Despite LaPorte'sarguments to the contrary, his solution trivializes thenotion of rigidity when applied to general terms. Hisarguments do lead to an important insight however. Thenotions of rigidity and non-rigidity do not usefullyapply at all to kind or other general terms. Extendingthe notion of rigidity from singular (...) class='Hi'>terms such as propernames to general terms such as natural kind terms is amistake. (shrink)