Rae Langton – Beyond Belief: Pragmatics in Pornography and Hate Speech
McGill Colloquium Series
Beyond Belief: Pragmatics in Pornography and Hate Speech
Pornography and hate speech arguably count as speech. Philosophers interested in speech have said that our pragmatic framework should connect speech with its purposes, a paradigm purpose being the communication of belief, via ‘conversational score’ (Lewis) or ‘common ground’ (Stalnaker). This paradigm ill fits the speech of pornography and racial vilification. Can pragmatics none the less shed some light
on what’s going on? Perhaps so. On the assumption that pornography and hate speech change attitudes, I consider five non-exclusive models of how it might do so: (i) a political speech model; (ii) a conditioning model; (iii) an imitation model; (iv) a speech act model; and (v) the pragmatic model. And I explore the prospects for the pragmatic model in making sense of speech whose purpose is not just getting people to know things they didn’t know before, but getting people to want things, and feel things, they didn’t want or feel before. This is part of an on-going effort to bring philosophy and political theory into a closer conversation, in this case, about what speech does, and why it matters.
3:30-5:30 on Friday, October 10 in Leacock 927.
Co-sponsored by the McGill Centre for Teaching and Research on Women