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Organon F

Volume 28, May 2021, Issue 3, Pages 626–649

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article | Special issue on Value in Language

The Derogatory Force and the Offensiveness of Slurs

Chang Liu

https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2021.28307

Abstract

Slurs are both derogatory and offensive, and they are said to exhibit “derogatory force” and “offensiveness.” Almost all theories of slurs, except the truth-conditional content theory and the invocational content theory, conflate these two features and use “derogatory force” and “offensiveness” interchangeably. This paper defends and explains the distinction between slurs’ derogatory force and offensiveness by fulfilling three goals. First, it distinguishes between slurs’ being derogatory and their being offensive with four arguments. For instance, ‘Monday’, a slur in the Bostonian argot, is used to secretly derogate African Americans without causing offense. Second, this paper points out that many theories of slurs run into problems because they conflate derogatory force with offensiveness. For example, the prohibition theory’s account of offensiveness in terms of prohibitions struggles to explain why ‘Monday’ is derogatory when it is not a prohibited word in English. Third, this paper offers a new explanation of this distinction from the perspective of a speech act theory of slurs; derogatory force is different from offensiveness because they arise from two different kinds of speech acts that slurs are used to perform, i.e., the illocutionary act of derogation and the perlocutionary act of offending. This new explanation avoids the problems faced by other theories.

Keywords

Derogation; expressives; offense; pejoratives; slurs; speech acts.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)

Author

Chang Liu

Affiliation

Peking University

Address

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China

E-mail

ch.liu@live.com

About this article

Received

13 November 2020

Accepted

5 June 2021

Published online

30 August 2021

Publishers

Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as

APA

Liu, C. (2021). The Derogatory Force and the Offensiveness of Slurs. Organon F28(3), 626–649. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2021.28307

Chicago

Liu, Chang. 2021. "The Derogatory Force and the Offensiveness of Slurs." Organon F 28 (3): 626–649. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2021.28307

Harvard

Liu, C. (2021). The Derogatory Force and the Offensiveness of Slurs. Organon F, 28(3), pp. 626–649. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2021.28307

Copyright information

© Chang Liu

Response page

https://www.sav.sk/?lang=sk&doc=journal-list&part=article_response_page&journal_article_no=26507

The above URL is linked with the article's response page. The response page is a permanent location that is associated with the article's DOI number.


This article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Contact

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