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Langton, Rae, , Jennifer Hornsby. Free Speech and Illocution
1998, Legal Theory 4(1): 21-37.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: We defend the view of some feminist writers that the notion of silencing has to be taken seriously in discussions of free speech. We assume that what ought to be meant by ‘speech’, in the context ‘free speech’, is whatever it is that a correct justification of the right to free speech justifies one in protecting. And we argue that what one ought to mean includes illocution, in the sense of J.L. Austin.

Comment: Very useful for an ethics course element on free speech, or for a feminist philosophy course, or indeed a philosophy of language (trap with the latter is that essays might become too ‘ethics’-y). Would definitely be suitable as a core text, with set questions focusing on different elements of the paper to draw out the key arguments. Students could be asked whether they agree with this definition of free speech, and to apply it in different contexts that have recently been in the news.

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Langton, Rae, , . Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts
1993, Philosophy and Public Affairs 22(4): 293-330.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Summary: Considers the idea of construing Pornography as a speech act – what this would mean, and the implications that follow from this. Examines arguments that pornography can i) subordinate and ii) silence women.

Comment: Great paper for a feminist philosophy course – in particular, for a unit on Pornography. It could be good to set seminar questions asking (for example) how, according to Langton, pornography silences women. It could also be good to get students to be clear on Langton’s three different types of speech act, and to give their own examples of these. (The 3 being illocutionary, perlocutionary and locutionary).

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Rees, Clea F., , . Better lie!
2014, Analysis 74(1): 59-64.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: I argue that lying is generally morally better than mere deliberate misleading because the latter involves the exploitation of a greater trust and more seriously abuses our willingness to fulfil epistemic and moral obligations to others. Whereas the liar relies on our figuring out and accepting only what is asserted, the mere deliberate misleader depends on our actively inferring meaning beyond what is said in the form of conversational implicatures as well. When others’ epistemic and moral obligations are determined by standard assumptions of communicative cooperation and no compelling moral reason justifies mere deliberate misleading instead, one had better lie.

Comment: This text works particularly well when used together with Jennifer Saul’s “Just go ahead and lie” (2012).

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