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March 26, 2018: Max Kölbel: Conversational Score and Harmful Speech

Alice meets Humpty Dumpty - The Victorian Web

Seminars of Philosophy of Perception, Mind, and Language — Spring session, 2018


Max Kölbel (Vienna)

Conversational Score and Harmful Speech


26 March, 2018, h. 11.00-13.00.

Room Enzo Paci, Directorate of the Department of Philosophy


The lecture will be held in English.
Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences.
Everyone interested is welcome to attend.



We are all aware that it is possible to harm someone by linguistic utterances, for example by slander or insult. In this talk, I shall examine the possibilities that the Stalnaker-Lewis framework of conversational analysis offers for explaining the nature of such harm. I shall look at some cases of derogatory speech and argue that there are at least two types of harm that can be done. One depends on the social significance afforded to the conversational score by the conversationalists, the other consists in the contribution to maintaining linguistic means that are designed to do the first kind of harm. I finally draw some tentative conclusions in the applied ethics of speech.

26 March 2018
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