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Ken Taylor: Northwestern Philosophy Colloquia Series

When: Friday, May 3, 2019
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM  

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Casey Huynh   847.491.3656

Group: Philosophy Colloquia Series

Category: Academic


Topic: Derogation and Resistance


Much has been written about the power of language to insult, demean, derogate, subordinate or silence. By contrast, almost nothing has been written about the ways in which derogating language might be resisted or thwarted. Indeed, it is sometimes claimed that certain forms of derogating, subordinating, or silence speech are not contestable by the targets and victims of such speech. Witness Jason Stanley’s claims that “that subordinating speech must be delivered from a position of authority” and that given the targets lack of “practical authority” the target’s “proposals to add things to the common ground can never... rise to the point of being tellings.” This essay aims to correct that lacuna. Its central claim is that linguistically speaking derogation and resistance are more or less on a par. In particular, the pragmatic and conversational mechanisms by which derogating modes of speech achieve their effects can also be deployed to resist even if not to entirely thwart the effects of derogating modes of speech. In particular, it is argued that a speaker who seeks to resist derogating speech has several conversation options, including refusing the terms of the derogator, putting the derogatory content expressed by the derogator at issue, or defensively derogating in return. Finally, it is argued that although the derogation and resistance may be conversationally on a par, it does not follow that they are necessarily politically/socially or ethically on a par.

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