Language and Race

In Gillian Russell & Delia Graff Fara (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language. Routledge. pp. 753-767 (2012)
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What is the point of language? If we begin with that abstract question, we may be tempted towards a high-minded answer: “People say things to get other people to come to know things that they didn't know before” (Stalnaker, 2002, 703). The point is truth, knowledge, communication. If we begin with a concrete question, “What has language to do with race?” we find a different point: to attack, spread hatred, create racial hierarchy. The mere practice of racial categorization is controversial: are race terms natural or social kind terms? What does categorization do to the categorized? (Outlaw, 1990; Omi and Winant, 1994; Appiah, 1996; Andreason, 1998; Kitcher, 1999; Zack, 2002; Haslanger, 2008; Glasgow, 2009). But there is worse than mere categorization to contend with.



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Author Profiles

Sally Haslanger
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rae Langton
Cambridge University
Luvell Anderson
Syracuse University

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