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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 2, April 2016
Dominating Speech

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Displaying: 1-11 of 11 documents

1. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Hallie Liberto Introduction
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2. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Lauren Ashwell Gendered Slurs
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Slurring language has had a lot of recent interest, but the focus has been almost exclusively on racial slurs. Gendered pejoratives, on the other hand—terms like “slut,” “bitch,” or “sissy”—do not fit into existing accounts of slurring terms, as these accounts require the existence of neutral correlates, which, I argue, these gendered pejoratives lack. Rather than showing that these terms are not slurs, I argue that this challenges the assumption that slurs must have neutral correlates, and so that a new approach to thinking about the meaning of slurring terms is required.
3. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Michael Randall Barnes Speaking with (Subordinating) Authority
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In “Subordinating Speech,” Ishani Maitra defends the claim that ordinary instances of hate speech can sometimes constitute subordination. While she accepts that subordinating speech requires authority, she argues that ordinary speakers can acquire this authority via a process of “licensing.” I believe this account is interestingly mistaken, and in this paper I develop an alternative account. In particular, I take issue with what I see as the highly localized character of Maitra’s account, which effectively divorces the subordinating authority of ordinary hate speech from the broader normative context, including social and pragmatic features that I claim play essential roles in subordination.
4. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Rachel Ann McKinney Extracted Speech
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Much recent philosophical work argues that power constrains speech—pornography silences women, testimonial injustice thwarts a speaker’s transmission of knowledge, bias distorts the performative force of subordinated speech. Though the constraints that power places on speech are serious, power also enables some speech. Power doesn’t just keep us from speaking—it also makes us speak. In this paper I explore how power produces, rather than constrains, speech. I discuss a kind of speech I call extracted speech: speech that is unjustly elicited from an agent. I discuss examples of coerced confession, intimidated “consent,” and mandatory self-disclosure as instances of extracted speech, and theorize a bit about what significance this speech has more generally for philosophy of language and political philosophy.
5. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
David Schraub Playing with Cards: Discrimination Claims and the Charge of Bad Faith
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A common response to claims of bias, harassment, or discrimination is to say that these claims are made in bad faith. Claimants are supposedly not motivated by a credible or even sincere belief that unfair or unequal treatment has occurred, but simply seek to illicitly gain public sympathy or private reward. Characterizing discrimination claims as systematically made in bad faith enables them to be screened and dismissed prior to engaging with them on their merits. This retort preserves the dominant group’s self-image as unprejudiced and innocent without having to risk critical analysis of the claim’s substance.
6. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Casey Rebecca Johnson If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Come Sit By Me: Gossip as Epistemic Good and Evil
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In this paper, I argue that gossip is both an epistemic evil—it can restrict access to information—and an epistemic good—it can be a key resource for knowers. These two faces of gossip can be illustrated when we consider the effects of participating in and being excluded from gossiping groups. Social psychology has begun to study these effects and their results are useful here. Because of these two aspects, I argue, gossip holds a peculiar place in our epistemic economy. It is vicious, and employed to restrict agents in their capacities as knowers, and it is also a valuable epistemic commodity, employed to enable agents in their epistemic capacities. To see these sides clearly, I employ some machinery from Miranda Fricker’s work on epistemic injustice. The tools from Fricker will help demonstrate that gossip can be both the means of unjustly restricting an epistemic agent, and the epistemically valuable ends from which she is restricted. Finally, I draw some conclusions for epistemology more generally.
7. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Goerge Tsai The Morality of State Symbolic Power
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Philosophical interest in state power has tended to focus on the state’s coercive powers rather than its expressive powers. I consider an underexplored aspect of the state’s expressive capacity: its capacity to use symbols (such as monuments, memorials, and street names) to promote political ends. In particular, I argue that the liberal state’s deployment of symbols to promote its members’ commitment to liberal ideals is in need of special justification. This is because the state’s exercise of its capacity to use symbols may be in tension with respecting individual autonomy, particularly in cases in which the symbols exert influence without engaging citizens’ rational capacities. But despite the fact that the state’s deployment of symbols may circumvent citizens’ rational capacities, I argue that it may nonetheless be permissible when surrounded by certain liberal institutions and brought about via democratic procedures.
8. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Erich Hatala Matthes Cultural Appropriation Without Cultural Essentialism?
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Is there something morally wrong with cultural appropriation in the arts? I argue that the little philosophical work on this topic has been overly dismissive of moral objections to cultural appropriation. Nevertheless, I argue that philosophers working on epistemic injustice have developed powerful conceptual tools that can aid in our understanding of objections that have been levied by other scholars and artists. I then consider the relationship between these objections and the harms of cultural essentialism. I argue that focusing on the systematic nature of appropriative harms may allow us to sidestep the problem of essentialism, but not without cost.
9. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Brynn F. Welch The Pervasive Whiteness of Children’s Literature: Collective Harms and Consumer Obligations
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In this paper, I argue that the pervasive whiteness of children’s literature contributes to the cultivation of racial biases and stereotypes while impeding the cultivation of compassion toward others. Furthermore, it makes many of the valuable goods associated with literature less accessible to children of color than to white children. Therefore, when possible, consumers have a moral obligation to purchase books (or sets of books) that include multidimensional characters of color, and act wrongly when they purchase only books that do not. I respond to the objection that because pervasive whiteness of children’s literature is a collective problem that produces collective harm, consumers are not blameworthy for their individual purchases.
10. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
Kate Manne Humanism: A Critique
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This paper considers the moral psychology of interpersonal conduct that is cruel, brutal, humiliating, or degrading. On the view I call “humanism,” such behavior often stems from the perpetrators’ dehumanizing view of their targets. The former may instead see the latter as subhuman creatures, nonhuman animals, supernatural beings, or even mindless objects. If people recognized their common humanity, they would have a hard time mistreating other human beings (so the humanist continues). This paper criticizes humanism so understood, arguing that its explanatory power is often overstated, and that there are alternative, “socially situated” explanations that are better in many cases.
11. Social Theory and Practice: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2
David Livingstone Smith Paradoxes of Dehumanization
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In previous writings, I proposed that we dehumanize others by attributing the essence of a less-than-human creature to them, in order to disable inhibitions against harming them. However, this account is inconsistent with the fact that dehumanizers implicitly, and often explicitly, acknowledge the human status of their victims. I propose that when we dehumanize others, we regard them as simultaneously human and subhuman. Drawing on the work of Ernst Jentsch (psychology), Mary Douglas (anthropology), and Noël Carroll (philosophy), I argue that the notion of dehumanized people as metaphysically transgressive provides important insights into the distinctive phenomenology of dehumanization.