Cat‐Calls, Compliments and Coercion

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (1):208-230 (2022)
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In this paper, I offer a novel argument for why cat-calling is wrong. After warding off the objection that cat-calls are compliments and therefore morally benign, I show that it cannot be the semantic content of cat-calls which makes cat-calling wrong, because some cat-calls have seemingly benign content yet seem to wrong their targets (usually women and LGBTQ people) nonetheless. Instead, cat-calling is wrong because it silences targets, by preventing them from blocking cat-callers’ presuppositions of authority, and exploits them, by forcing them into the demeaning position of acting as if they consider cat-callers to have authority over them.



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Lucy McDonald
Cambridge University

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Studies in the Way of Words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Common ground.Robert Stalnaker - 2002 - Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5-6):701-721.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (3):339.

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