What is Hate Speech? Part 2: Family Resemblances

Law and Philosophy 36 (5):561-613 (2017)
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Abstract

The issue of hate speech has received significant attention from legal scholars and philosophers alike. But the vast majority of this attention has been focused on presenting and critically evaluating arguments for and against hate speech bans as opposed to the prior task of conceptually analysing the term ‘hate speech’ itself. This two-part article aims to put right that imbalance. It goes beyond legal texts and judgements and beyond the legal concept hate speech in an attempt to understand the general concept hate speech. And it does so using a range of well-known methods of conceptual analysis that are distinctive of analytic philosophy. One of its main aims is to explode the myth that emotions, feelings, or attitudes of hate or hatred are part of the essential nature of hate speech. It also argues that hate speech is best conceived as a family resemblances concept. One important implication is that when looking at the full range of ways of combating hate speech, including but not limited to the use of criminal law, there is every reason to embrace an understanding of hate speech as a heterogeneous collection of expressive phenomena. Another is that it would be unsound to reject hate speech laws on the premise that they are effectively in the business of criminalising emotions, feelings, or attitudes of hate or hatred.

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Alexander Brown
University of East Anglia

Citations of this work

Differentiating hate speech: a systemic discrimination approach.Katharine Gelber - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (4):393-414.
Differentiating hate speech: a systemic discrimination approach.Katharine Gelber - 2019 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (4):1-22.
Hateful Counterspeech.Maxime Lepoutre - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (4):533-554.
Hate Speech.Luvell Anderson & Michael Randall Barnes - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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Speech acts and unspeakable acts.Rae Langton - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (4):293-330.
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Slurs and Stereotypes.Robin Jeshion - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (3):314-329.
Subordinating Speech.Ishani Maitra - 2012 - In Mary Kate McGowan Ishani Maitra (ed.), Speech and Harm: Controversies Over Free Speech. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 94-120.

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