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Applied Ethics Search Candidate Talk-All Are Welcome

Date: Thursday 3/9/2017
2 Week(s) 4 Day(s) ago
Time: 5:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Organizer: The Search Committee for the Applied Ethics position ( )
Notes: THURSDAY: March 9th, 5:15PM, ELH, please join us for the presentation by Cassie Herbert, candidate for the position of Assistant Professor of Applied Ethics.
Title: Talking About Slurs
Abstract: While it's generally well recognized that we oughtn't use slurs, there's a lot of uncertainty about just how, exactly, to navigate talking about slurs - what to do in instances in which slurs are mentioned but not used. This problem crops up in a broad range of contexts, from whether or not slurs should be mentioned in the classroom, to how academics who study slurs ought to structure their work, to how journalists should report on public figures who use slurs. Many have recognized that mentioning slurs seems to carry with it some kind of residue. Yet philosophers have struggled to make sense of this aspect of slurs. I propose that focusing on the connection between slurs and implicit biases can help to make sense of this.

I begin by laying out some of the central puzzles about slurs within philosophy of language. Then, I show how one of these issues, namely the worry about mentioning slurs, comes up in much broader range of contexts than simply within philosophy of language. Next, I turn to research on priming and implicit biases. I argue that slurs can act as a powerful priming mechanism of pernicious implicit biases about the group targeted by the slur. If this is right, it does two things: 1) it sheds light on some of these puzzles about slurs, and 2) it raises serious concerns even for instances in which slurs are merely mentioned. Finally, based on this, I offer practical guidance for navigating the contours of talking about slurs.

Location: East Lecture Hall

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