SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Silencing as Resistance
(Philosophy of Language, English)

A Silencing is usually discussed as something that unjustly happens to an already disadvantaged group. I explore the possibility of using silencing as a means of resistance and countering discriminatory speech. I argue that Quill Kukla__s account of uptake gives us an interesting framework for (partially) retracting the speech of others. The role of uptake in performing an illocutionary act has been much discussed. In social philosophy of language, uptake has mostly been treated as a felicity condition for illocution (Langton and Hornsby 1998). More radically, sometimes uptake is taken to constitute the illocution (Kukla 2014). To be (illocutionary) silenced means to be made unable to perform a certain illocutionary act. Failing to secure uptake is one way illocutions can be infelicitous. If the intended warning __You won__t make the jump!__ is taken to be a dare by its recipient, the speaker failed to warn them. But what did they do? Either they failed to do anything (Langton and Hornsby), or even issued a dare (Kukla). Kukla holds that the performative force of a speech act depends on its output, i.e., the normative statuses, the social change, it brings about. For example, a speech act is a promise if and only if it brings about an obligation to keep it (and other related normative statuses), independently of the speaker__s intention to make a promise. What at first might sound like an unpalatable consequence, I argue, can also provide a fruitful framework for counter-speech. If a hearer can change what a person does with words through her subsequent behaviour and subscription to normative statuses, she might be able to stop discriminatory speech simply by failing to react accordingly. A typical example would be treating an insult as a joke. If the hearers laugh instead of taking offence, the speaker__s insults are silenced. Importantly, this approach should not be interpreted as an appeal to endure abuse, but as calling attention to the power a hearer has over a speaker__s actions. My argument adds to the already existing discussion about blocking felicity conditions (Langton 2018) and retracting one__s own speech (Kukla and Steinberg 2021). I argue that with Kukla__s framework it is possible to go even further and make plausible the possibility to retract other people__s illocutions as a hearer or a small-scale group effort by adjusting one__s reaction. BIBLIOGRAPHY Hornsby, Jennifer and Rae Langton (1998): __Free Speech And Illocution__ in Legal Theory, 4 (1998), 21-37. Kukla, Quill _writing as Rebecca_ (2014) __Performative Force, Convention, and Discursive Injustice__ in: Hypatia, vol. 29, no. 2 (spring 2014), pp. 440-457. Kukla, Quill and Dan Steinberg (2021): ____I Really Didn__t Say Everything I Said__: The Pragmatics of Retraction__ in Townsend, Leo; Stovall, Preston; Schmid, Hans Bernhard (eds.): The Social Institution of Discursive Norms. Milton: Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 223-247. Langton, Rae (2018): __Blocking as Counter-Speech__ in Fogal, Daniel; Harris, Daniel W.; Moss, Matt (eds.): New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Time: 10:40-11:10, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Marlene Valek 
(University of Vienna , Austria)

Testability and Meaning deco