Publication Date

2019-07-24

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2019-07-24

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2019-07-12

First Committee Member

Brendan Balcerak Jackson

Second Committee Member

Simon Evnine

Third Committee Member

Magdalena Balcerak Jackson

Fourth Committee Member

Elisabeth Camp

Fifth Committee Member

Mark Richard

Abstract

Be advised that some offensive language is mentioned in the following abstract. ‘That woman’s a dyke’. ‘She’s a piece of ass’. The former utterance is an example of a slurring utterance, and the latter is an instance of an utterance that I call a Synecdochical Utterance Targeting Women (SUTW). A synecdochical utterance targeting women is one in which an anatomical part term is predicated of a woman. What these utterances have in common is that, in many contexts in which either is uttered, the speaker does something at least alienating, if not disrespectful or worse. I argue, in this dissertation, for a theory of the distinctive act that the slurring speaker undertakes, and for a theory of the distinctive act that the SUTW speaker performs, that enables her to alienate, convey disrespect, or otherwise. The slurring speaker distances herself from the target, an act whereby she pledges to support a group that the slur she uses does not target and refuses to support the group that it does target. This act is separate from predicating the property that a slur expresses of the targeted person. I present a theory of which property this is, as well. On my theory of the property that a slur expresses, the slur expresses an essence. The kind of disrespectful act that a SUTW speaker performs is conversationally implicating disrespectful propositions, whose subject is the woman in question.

Keywords

Slurs; Pejoratives; Semantics; Pragmatics; Synecdoche; Philosophy of Language

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