A dual act analysis of slurs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


Slurs are incendiary terms-many deny that sentences containing them can ever be true. And utterances where they occur embedded within normally "quarantining" contexts, like conditionals and indirect reports, can still seem offensive. At the same time, others find that sentences containing slurs can be true; and there are clear cases where embedding does inoculate a speaker from the slur's offensiveness. This chapter argues that four standard accounts of the "other" element that differentiates slurs from their more neutral counterparts-semantic content, perlocutionary effect, presupposition, and conventional implicature-all fail to account for this puzzling mixture of intuitions. Instead, it proposes that slurs make two distinct, coordinated contributions to a sentence's conventional communicative role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBad Words
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophical Perspectives on Slurs
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9780198758655
StatePublished - Aug 23 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Conventional implicature
  • Pejoratives
  • Presupposition
  • Semantics/pragmatics
  • Slurs

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