Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm

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Oxford University Press, 2019 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 209 pages
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We all know that speech can be harmful. But what are the harms and how exactly does the speech in question brings those harms about? Mary Kate McGowan identifies a previously overlooked mechanism by which speech constitutes, rather than merely causes, harm. She argues that speech constitutes
harm when it enacts a norm that prescribes that harm. McGowan illustrates this theory by considering many categories of speech including sexist remarks, racist hate speech, pornography, verbal triggers for stereotype threat, micro-aggressions, political dog whistles, slam poetry, and even the
hanging of posters. Just Words explores a variety of harms - such as oppression, subordination, discrimination, domination, harassment, and marginalization - and ways in which these harms can be remedied.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Preliminaries
8
Conversational Exercitives
27
On Differences Between Standard and Conversational Exercitives
50
The General Phenomenon Covert Exercitives
82
Speech and Oppression
100
On Pornography Subordination and Silencing
124
Race Speech and Free Speech Law
156
Conclusion
184
Bibliography
191
Index
205
Copyright

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About the author (2019)


Mary Kate McGowan, Margaret Clapp '30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of Philosophy, Wellesley College

Mary Kate McGowan is the Margaret Clapp '30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College. She received her PhD from Princeton in 1996. She works in metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, and feminism. She is the co-editor, with Ishani Maitra, of Speech and Harm:
Controversies Over Free Speech (Oxford 2009).

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