Volume 17, Issue 2, 2017
Let’s Not Worry about the Reclamation Worry
In this paper, I discuss the Reclamation Worry (RW), raised by Anderson and Lepore 2013 and addressed by Ritchie (2017) concerning the appropriation of slurs. I argue that Ritchie’s way to solve the RW is not adequate and I show why such an apparent worry is not actually problematic and should not lead us to postulate a rich complex semantics for reclaimed slurs. To this end, after illustrating the phenomenon of appropriation of slurs, I introduce the Reclamation Worry (section 2). In section 3, I argue that Richie’s complex proposal is not needed to explain the phenomenon. To show that, I compare the case of reclaimed and non-reclaimed slurs to the case of polysemic personal pronouns featuring, among others, in many Romance languages. In section 4 I introduce the notion of ‘authoritativeness’ that I take to be crucial to account for reclamation. In section 5, I focus on particular cases (the “outsider” cases) that support my claims and speak against the parsimony of the indexical account. Finally, I conclude with a methodological remark about the ways in which the debate on appropriation has developed in the literature (section 6).