•  3052
    Derogatory terms (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 th…Read more
  •  684
    Derogatory terms (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 co…Read more
  •  546
    Genocidal Language Games
    In Ishani Maitra & Mary Kate McGowan (eds.), Speech and Harm: Controversies Over Free Speech, Oxford University Press. pp. 174--221. 2012.
    This chapter examines the role played by derogatory terms (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 derogatory terms 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, derogatory terms and coded euphemisms were used to direct killers to t…Read more
  •  516
    Pornographic Subordination: How Pornography Silences Women
    In Claudia F. Card (ed.), Feminist Ethics and Politics, University Press of Kansas. 1999.
    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 disti…Read more
  •  446
    Feminists have urged women to take semantic authority. This article explains what such authority is, how it depends upon community recognition, and how it differs from privilege and from authority as usually conceived under patriarchy. Understanding its natures and limits is an important part of attaining it. Understanding the role of community explains why separatism is the logical conclusion of this project, and why separatism is valuable even to those who do not separate.
  •  408
    Forgiving Grave Wrongs
    In Christopher Allers & Marieke Smit (eds.), Forgiveness In Perspective, Rodopi Press. 2010.
    We introduce what we call the Emergent Model of forgiving, which is a process-based relational model conceptualizing forgiving as moral and normative repair in the wake of grave wrongs. In cases of grave wrongs, which shatter the victim’s life, the Classical Model of transactional forgiveness falls short of illuminating how genuine forgiveness can be achieved. In a climate of persistent threat and distrust, expressions of remorse, rituals and gestures of apology, and acts of reparation are unab…Read more
  •  406
    Reductive and nonreductive simile theories of metaphor
    Journal of Philosophy 88 (7): 337-358. 1991.
    Metaphor is commonly taken to be an elliptical simile. This article offers a rational reconstruction of two types of simile theories of metaphor: reductive and non-reductive. Careful analysis shows the differences between these theories, but in the end, neither does the explanatory work it sets out to do. In assimilating metaphor to simile and simile to literal comparison, the reductive simile theory obscures what is most important to an account of metaphor: an account of what it is to interpret…Read more
  •  190
    Seeing Metaphor as Seeing‐As: Remarks on Davidson's Positive View of Metaphor
    Philosophical Investigations 14 (2): 143-154. 1991.
    Davidson suggests that metaphor is a pragmatic (not a semantic) phenomenon; on his view, metaphor is a perlocutionary effect prompts its audience to see one thing as another. Davidson rightly attacks speaker-intentionalism as the source of metaphorical meaning, but settles for an account that depends on audience intentions. A better approach would undermine intentionalism per se, replacing it with a social practice analysis based on patterns of extending the metaphor. This paper shows why Davids…Read more
  •  164
    Extending: The structure of metaphor
    Noûs 23 (1): 17-34. 1989.
    This article shows how attention to extended metaphors provides the basis for a substantive account of what it is to understand a metaphor. Offering an analysis of extended metaphors modeled on an analysis of co-referential anaphoric chains, this article presents an account of how contexts makes metaphors. The analysis introduces the concept of expressive commitment, commitment to the viability and value of particular modes of discourse. Unlike literal interpretation, metaphorical interpretatio…Read more
  •  145
    Toxic Speech: Toward an Epidemiology of Discursive Harm
    Philosophical Topics 45 (2): 139-161. 2017.
    Applying a medical conception of toxicity to speech practices, this paper calls for an epidemiology of discursive toxicity. Toxicity highlights the mechanisms by which speech acts and discursive practices can inflict harm, making sense of claims about harms arising from speech devoid of slurs, epithets, or a narrower class I call ‘deeply derogatory terms.’ Further, it highlights the role of uptake and susceptibility, and so suggests a framework for thinking about damage variation. Toxic effects …Read more
  •  143
    Storytelling and moral agency
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48 (2): 115-126. 1990.
    The capacity for telling stories is necessary for being moral agents. The minimal necessary features for moral agency involve the capacities necessary for articulation, and articulation is a key part of what we learn and practice through telling stories. Developing the interdependence between agency and articulation, this article offers an account of both categorical moral agency and a degree-of-sophistication account of agency. Central to these are three factors: a moral agent has (1) the capac…Read more
  •  94
    Douglas Joel Butler 1957-1991
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 65 (5). 1992.
    APA Memorial Minutes.
  •  87
    "Listen to What You Say": Rwanda's Postgenocide Language Policies
    New England Journal of Public Policy 27 (4). 2015.
    Freedom of expression is considered a basic human right, and yet most countries have restrictions on speech they deem harmful. Following the genocide of the Tutsi, Rwanda passed a constitution (2003) and laws against hate speech and other forms of divisionist language (2008, 2013). Understanding how language shaped “recognition harms” that both constitute and fuel genocide also helps account for political decisions to limit “divisionist” discourse. When we speak, we make expressive commitments, …Read more
  •  87
    Remembering Claudia Card: Two Tributes
    Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 1 (2): 1-6. 2015.
    From the editor: On behalf of the editors of FPQ, I thank our colleagues for providing us their public addresses at the Celebration of Life of Professor Claudia Falconer Card of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who died on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Claudia Card was the author of over one hundred articles and books, key works of moral and feminist philosophy including Confronting Evils: Terrorism, Torture, Genocide, The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil, and The Unnatural Lottery: Chara…Read more
  •  77
    This article explores the cognitive and epistemic dimensions of a harm-centered theory of evil, as set out in Card’s The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil. Examining testimony of both survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide helps to support, clarify, and extend Card’s view. Of particular concern are questions of recognizing evil as such, whether the demand to avoid evil sets too high a standard of control over oneself and one’s circumstances, and how to understand agency within…Read more
  •  66
    Toxic Misogyny and the Limits of Counterspeech
    Fordham Law Review 6 (87): 2433-2452. 2019.
    Speech is a major vehicle for enacting and enforcing misogyny, so can counter-speech stop the harms of misogynist speech? This paper starts with a discussion of the nature of misogyny, from Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Frye, up to K. Manne’s new work, here emphasizing the ways that women are attacked or undermined through speech and images. Misogyny becomes toxic when it sharply and steadily limits the life prospects, including daily functioning, of the women it targets. To address the questions of c…Read more
  •  65
    Toxic Speech: Inoculations and Antidotes
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 56 (S1): 116-144. 2018.
    Toxic speech inflicts individual and group harm, damaging the social fabric upon which we all depend. To understand and combat the harms of toxic speech, philosophers can learn from epidemiology, while epidemiologists can benefit from lessons of philosophy of language. In medicine and public health, research into remedies for toxins pushes in two directions: individual protections (personal actions, avoidances, preventive or reparative tonics) and collective action (specific policies or widespre…Read more
  •  57
    Forgiveness and Retribution: Responding to Wrongdoing, written by Margaret R. Holmgren (review)
    Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (6): 802-805. 2015.
    Book review.
  •  49
    Apology is a necessary component of moral repair of damage done by wrongs against the person. Analyzing the role of apology in the aftermath of atrocity, with a focus on the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, 1994, this article emphasizes the role of recognition failures in grave moral wrongs, the importance of speech acts that offer recognition, and building mutuality through recognition as a route to reconciliation. Understanding the US role in the international failure to stop the ’94 genocide …Read more
  •  48
    Authority and Gender: Flipping the F-Switch
    Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 4 (3). 2018.
    The very rules of our language games contain mechanisms of disregard. Philosophy of language tends to treat speakers as peers with equal discursive authority, but this is rare in real, lived speech situations. This paper explores the mechanisms of discursive inclusion and exclusion governing our speech practices, with a special focus on the role of gender attribution in undermining women’s authority as speakers. Taking seriously the metaphor of language games, we must ask who gets in the game an…Read more
  •  32
    Perpetrators and Social Death: A Cautionary Tale
    Metaphilosophy 47 (4-5): 585-606. 2016.
    Understanding evil requires both addressing the grave wrongs done to the victim and addressing the perpetrator who does these wrongs. Claudia Card's concept of social vitality was developed to explain what génocidaires destroy in their victims. This essay brings that concept into conversation with perpetrator testimony, arguing that the génocidaires’ desire for their own social vitality, achieved through their destruction of the social world of their targets, in fact boomerangs to corrode the vi…Read more
  •  7
    Although Nietzsche's writings clearly deliver an unhealthy dose of misogyny, it must be noticed that they also contain the seeds of a deconstruction of that misogyny. This paper exposes one set of deconstructing elements of Nietzsche's works with respect to his views on women. The wider philosophical context of Nietzsche's thought provides grounds for taking seriously several passages of The Gay Science that reveal a more sympathetic understanding of women, since these passages take seriously Ni…Read more
  •  4
    Language and Power
    In Alison M. Jaggar & Iris Marion Young (eds.), A Companion to Feminist Philosophy,, Blackwell. 1997.
    This article argues that the real promise of feminist philosophy of language is in its account of articulated normativity. Feminist philosophy of language began within a descriptivist framework, seeking to identify and root out sexist discursive practices, like naming practices that subsume women’s identity under men’s, descriptive practices that erase or undermine women’s accomplishments and presence as subjects, and so on. This approach had its limits, and led to increased attention to the dis…Read more
  •  4
    Discursive Epidemiology: Two Models
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 95 (1): 115-142. 2021.
    Toxic speech inflicts damage to mental and physical health. This process can be chronic or acute, temporary or permanent. Understanding how toxic speech inflicts these harms requires both an account of linguistic practices and, because language is inherently social, tools from epidemiology. This paper explores what we can learn from two epidemiological models: a common source model that emphasizes poisons, and a propagated transmission model that better fits contagions like viruses.
  •  2
    Drawing on my recent work using inferential role semantics and elements of speech act theory to analyze the role of derogatory terms (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 Wittgen…Read more
  •  2
    “Transitional Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda: An Integrative Approach”
    In Claudio Corradetti, Nir Eisikovits & Jack Rotondi (eds.), Theorizing Transitional Justice, Ashgate. 2015.
    An imperfect “politics of justice” seems to be inevitable in the aftermath of genocide. In Rwanda, this is especially true, given the scale of the atrocities, the breadth of participation, and the need to build a justice system from scratch while establishing security and restoring the rule of law. Official contexts for survivor testimony and corresponding perpetrator punishment are crucial for establishing shared norms and narratives, but these processes can destabilize social relations in impo…Read more