Slurs, Bad Words, and Unruly Language

Course Code
PHIL 2500
Corin Fox

Some words have incredible power in what their uses can convey and cause. Others are more inert. There are “bad words”, which can be met with sanctions from the mild to the severe. Words can also be used to subjugate individuals, groups, and collectives of various human identities. In this course we will study some pressing questions in the philosophy of language that connect to the study of slurs, bad words, and unruly language. In doing so, we will focus on what is often done with such language, while forging connections to some hallmark topics in the philosophy of language. Topics to be studied include: meaning, speech acts, presupposition, implicature, conversational norms, context-sensitivity, expression, derogation, silencing, subordination, and “fictional” discourses.