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Russell, Gillian. Social Spheres: Logic, Ranking, and Subordination
2024, In R. Cook and A. Yap (eds.), Feminist Philosophy and Formal Logic. University of Minnesota Press
Added by: Franci Mangraviti and Viviane Fairbank

This paper uses logic - a formal language with models and a consequence relation - to think about the social and political topics of subordination and subordinative speech. I take subordination to be a matter of three things: i) ranking one person or a group of people below others, ii) depriving the lower-ranked of rights, and iii) permitting others to discriminate against them. Subordinative speech is speech - utterances in contexts - which subordinates. Section 1 introduces the topic of subordination using examples from the 1979 novel Kindred by Octavia Butler. Section 2 uses these examples to clarify and illustrate the definitions of subordination and subordinative speech. Sections 3 and 4 then develop a way of modeling subordination using a system of social spheres, an adaptation of (Lewis, 1973)'s approach to modeling the relation of comparative similarity on worlds for counterfactuals. Section 4 looks at three possible applications for this work: giving truth-conditions for social quantifiers, identifying fallacies involving such expressions, and explaining the pragmatics of subordinative speech. The last section anticipates objections and raises further questions.

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