The Dean of Faculty Office and
The Department of Philosophy presents,
Moral and Semantic
A lecture by
Robert C. May
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
and Linguistics, University of California, Davis
November 6th, 2013
Rockefeller Hall 300
Pejoratives, as discussed in linguistic semantics, include words like “kike”, “nigger,” and “chink”. How can a competent, rational speaker of a language know the meaning of a pejorative without being committed to, or even complicit with, racist attitudes? Our goal is to characterize the meanings of pejorative words, the truth-conditions of sentences that contain them, and the corresponding semantic knowledge of competent speakers of a language. The foundation to our analysis rests upon a novel articulation of pejorative words themselves, and their connection to certain, a priori, moral facts about racial categories.
Disclaimer: By its very nature, this talk will contain the use and mention of highly offensive, racist language. Those with sensitivities to such words should be warned that such words will be repeated as part of the discussion.
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