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WHEN WORDS UNINTENTIONALLY WOUND: A DUTY TO SELF-CENSOR1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2014

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Abstract

Based on Robert Baker's metaphorical view of damaging language, I argue that morally responsible individuals are obligated to refrain from using the word ‘gay’ as a negative adjective directed towards that which the speaker dislikes. According to the metaphorical view, while a speaker may understand her use of the word ‘gay’ as devoid of homosexual connotations, the hearer – particularly a young person still coming to understand his own sexuality – is likely to conclude that his ‘gayness’ puts him in the same hated category as all of those other objects, events, and persons who are negatively called ‘gay’.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2014 

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References

2 Neu, Jerome, Sticks and Stone: The Philosophy of Insults (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 153154Google Scholar.

3 Lawrence, C., ‘Racist Speech as the Functional Equivalent of Fighting Words’, in Mappes, et al., Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 264Google Scholar.

4 Baker, R., “‘Pricks’ and ‘Chicks’: A Plea For ‘Persons’”, in Vetterling-Braggin, Mary (ed.) Sexist Language: A Modern Philosophical Analysis (New York: Littlefield, Adams and Co., 1981), 162Google Scholar.

5 Ross, S., ‘How Words Hurt: Attitude, Metaphor, and Oppression’, in Vetterling-Braggin, Mary (ed.) Sexist Language: A Modern Philosophical Analysis (New York: Littlefield, Adams and Co., 1981), 204Google Scholar.

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WHEN WORDS UNINTENTIONALLY WOUND: A DUTY TO SELF-CENSOR1
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