•  4
    Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm
    Oxford University Press. 2019.
    We all know that speech can be harmful. But how? Mary Kate McGowan argues that speech constitutes harm when it enacts a norm that prescribes that harm. She investigates such harms as oppression, subordination, and discrimination in such forms of speech as sexist remarks, racist hate speech, pornography, verbal triggers, and micro-aggressions.
  •  15
    A World of States of Affairs (review)
    Dialogue 38 (3): 662-663. 1999.
    Evidently, David Armstrong is not one for misleading titles. In his A World of States of Affairs, he argues for the claim that the world is entirely composed of states of affairs. Much of the book is spent on the deeply worthwhile enterprise of arguing that this states-of-affairs ontology is sufficient to provide truthmakers for all contingent, all necessary, and all modal truths. This is a formidable task for a minimalist factualist ontology. The ontology is factualist since only states of affa…Read more
  • Devitt, M.-Coming to Our Senses
    Philosophical Books 38 261-262. 1997.
  •  115
  •  42
    Privileging properties
    Philosophical Studies 105 (1): 1-23. 2001.
    The idea that the world is human construction is fairly familiar and generally disparaged. One version of this claim is partially defendedhere. This subjectivist thesis concerns a debate about the objectivityof rightness of categorization. A problem about the discriminatoryrole of properties is both presented and motivated. The subjectivistthesis is articulated and defended against two powerful objections.Finally, this thesis is shown to be conceptually independent ofboth verificationism and emp…Read more
  •  61
    “On indirect speech acts and linguistic communication: A response to bertolet”
    with Shan Shan Tam and Margaret Hall
    Philosophy 84 (4): 495-513. 2009.
    Suppose a diner says, 'Can you pass the salt?' Although her utterance is literally a question (about the physical abilities of the addressee), most would take it as a request (that the addressee pass the salt). In such a case, the request is performed indirectly by way of directly asking a question. Accordingly this utterance is known as an indirect speech act. On the standard account of such speech acts, a single utterance constitutes two distinct speech acts. On this account then, 'Can you pas…Read more
  •  81
    A Partial Defense of Illocutionary Silencing
    with Alexandra Adelman, Sara Helmers, and Jacqueline Stolzenberg
    Hypatia 26 (1). 2011.
    Catharine MacKinnon has pioneered a new brand of anti-pornography argument. In particular, MacKinnon claims that pornography silences women in a way that violates their right to free speech. In what follows, we focus on a certain account of silencing put forward by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton, and we defend that account against two important objections. The first objection contends that this account makes a crucial but false assumption about the necessary role of hearer recognition in succe…Read more
  •  104
    Sincerity Silencing
    Hypatia 29 (2): 458-473. 2014.
    Catharine MacKinnon claims that pornography silences women in a way that violates the right to free speech. This claim is, of course, controversial, but if it is correct, then the very free speech reasons for protecting pornography appear also to afford reason to restrict it. For this reason, it has gained considerable attention. The philosophical literature thus far focuses on a type of silencing identified and analyzed by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton (H&L). This article identifies, analyze…Read more
  •  65
    On Racist Hate Speech and the Scope of a Free Speech Principle
    Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 23 (2): 343-372. 2009.
    In this paper, we argue that to properly understand our commitment to a principle of free speech, we must pay attention to what should count as speech for the purposes of such a principle. We defend the view that ‘speech’ here should be a technical term, with something other than its ordinary sense. We then offer a partial characterization of this technical sense. We contrast our view with some influential views about free speech , and show that our view has distinct advantages. Finally, we cons…Read more
  •  130
    Conversational exercitives: Something else we do with our words
    Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (1): 93-111. 2004.
    In this paper, I present a new (i.e., previously overlooked) breed of exercitive speech act (the conversational exercitive). I establish that any conversational contribution that invokes a rule of accommodation changes the bounds of conversational permissibility and is therefore an (indirect) exercitive speech act. Such utterances enact permissibility facts without expressing the content of such facts, without the speaker intending to be enacting such facts and without the hearer recognizing tha…Read more
  •  129
    On silencing, rape, and responsibility
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1). 2010.
    In a recent article in this journal, Nellie Wieland argues that silencing in the sense put forward by Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby has the unpalatable consequence of diminishing a rapist's responsibility for the rape. We argue both that Wieland misidentifies Langton and Hornsby's conception of silencing, and that neither Langton and Hornsby's actual conception, nor the one that Wieland attributes to them, in fact generates this consequence
  •  57
    The neglected controversy over metaphysical realism
    Philosophy 77 (1): 5-21. 2002.
    In what follows, I motivate and clarify the controversy over metaphysical realism (the claim that there is a single objective way that the world is) by defending it against two objections. A clear understanding of why these objections are misguided goes a considerable distance in illuminating the complex and controversial nature of m-realism. Once the complex thesis is defined, some objections to it are considered. Since m-realism is such a complex and controversial thesis, it cannot legitimatel…Read more
  •  5
    Suppose a diner says, ‘Can you pass the salt?’ Although her utterance is literally a question, most would take it as a request. In such a case, the request is performed indirectly by way of directly asking a question. Accordingly this utterance is known as an indirect speech act. On the standard account of such speech acts, a single utterance constitutes two distinct speech acts. On this account then, ‘Can you pass the salt?’ is both a question and a request. In a provocative essay, Rod Bertolet…Read more
  •  479
    Oppressive speech
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3). 2009.
    I here present two different models of oppressive speech. My interest is not in how speech can cause oppression, but in how speech can actually be an act of oppression. As we shall see, a particular type of speech act, the exercitive, enacts permissibility facts. Since oppressive speech enacts permissibility facts that oppress, speech must be exercitive in order for it to be an act of oppression. In what follows, I distinguish between two sorts of exercitive speech acts (the standard exercitive …Read more
  •  124
    Debate: On silencing and sexual refusal
    Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (4): 487-494. 2009.
    No Abstract
  •  90
    Speech and Harm: Controversies Over Free Speech (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2012.
    This volume draws on a range of approaches in order to explore the problem and determine what ought to be done about allegedly harmful speech.Most liberal societies are deeply committed to a principle of free speech. At the same time, however, there is evidence that some kinds of speech are harmful in ways that are detrimental to important liberal values, such as social equality. Might a genuine commitment to free speech require that we legally permit speech even when it is harmful, and even whe…Read more
  •  14
    On Pragmatics, Exercitive Speech Acts and Pornography
    Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 5 (1): 133-155. 2009.
    On Pragmatics, Exercitive Speech Acts and Pornography Suppose that a suspect being questioned by the police says, "I think I'd better talk to a lawyer." Whether that suspect has invoked her right to an attorney depends on which particular speech act her utterance is. If she is merely thinking aloud about what she ought to do, then she has not invoked that right. If, on the other hand, she has thereby requested a lawyer, she has. Similarly, suppose that an unhappily married man says "I want my wi…Read more
  •  6
    The ethics of free speech
    Legal Theory 13 (1): 41-68. 2007.
  •  48
    On Silencing and Systematicity: The Challenge of the Drowning Case
    with Ilana Walder‐Biesanz, Morvareed Rezaian, and Chloe Emerson
    Hypatia 31 (1): 74-90. 2016.
    Silencing is a speech-related harm. We here focus on one particular account of silencing offered by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton. According to this account, silencing is systematically generated, illocutionary-communicative failure. We here raise an apparent challenge to that account. In particular, we offer an example—the drowning case—that meets these conditions of silencing but does not intuitively seem to be an instance of it. First, we explore several conditions one might add to the Hor…Read more
  •  196
    Gruesome connections
    Philosophical Quarterly 52 (206): 21-33. 2002.
    It is widely recognized that Goodman's grue example demonstrates that the rules for induction, unlike those for deduction, cannot be purely syntactic. Ways in which Goodman's proof generalizes, however, are not widely recognized. Gruesome considerations demonstrate that neither theories of simplicity nor theories of empirical confirmation can be purely syntactic. Moreover, the grue paradox can be seen as an instance of a much more general phenomenon. All empirical investigations require semantic…Read more
  •  100
    Many liberal societies are deeply committed to freedom of speech. This commitment is so entrenched that when it seems to come into conflict with other commitments (e.g., gender equality), it is often argued that the commitment to speech must trump the other commitments. In this paper, we argue that a proper understanding of our commitment to free speech requires being clear about what should count as speech for these purposes. On the approach we defend, should get a special, technical sense, dif…Read more
  •  296
    Although others have focused on Catharine MacKinnon's claim that pornography subordinates and silences women, I here focus on her claim that pornography constructs women's nature and that this construction is, in some sense, false. Since it is unclear how pornography, as speech, can construct facts and how constructed facts can nevertheless be false, MacKinnon's claim requires elucidation. Appealing to speech act theory, I introduce an analysis of the erroneous verdictive and use it to make sens…Read more