Chapter

Beyond Belief: Pragmatics in Hate Speech and Pornography<sup>1</sup>

Langton Rae

in Speech and Harm

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199236282
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741357 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.003.0004
Beyond Belief: Pragmatics in Hate Speech and Pornography1

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Pragmatics can shed light on racial hate speech and pornography, but only if we bring it down to earth. Five models for hate speech and pornography are distinguished: a conditioning model, an imitation model, an argument model, a speech act model, and its descendant, the pragmatic model. A speech act model distinguishes illocutionary and perlocutionary dimensions of speech: e.g. hate speech can incite, and cause, hatred and violence. The pragmatic model tries to capture these dimensions via an account of accommodation. It can indeed illuminate racial hate speech and pornography, but only with amendments that go ‘beyond belief’. Lewis and Stalnaker showed how ‘score’ or ‘common ground’ of conversation accommodates to moves speakers make, and the hearer’s belief adjusts accordingly. This picture needs extending to make sense of hate speech and pornography: we need to allow for the accommodation of other attitudes, such as desire and hate.

Keywords: racial hate speech; pornography; propaganda; hatred; sexual desire; accommodation; speech act; illocution; perlocution; score; common ground

Chapter.  9256 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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