Veranstaltung vom

Humboldt Conversation in Philosophy with Rose Ryan Flinn (NYU) on June 9th (4pm to 6pm). The talk will be held on zoom. You can join the session via the following link.

A non-pejorative counterpart for a slur S is a word C that applies to the same things that users of S take S to apply to, but without the derogatory force that S conveys. For instance, ‘black’ is a non-pejorative counterpart for the N-word. In this talk I seek to challenge the assumption that, for a slur S with non-pejorative counterpart C, the meaning of C is part of the meaning of S.This assumption is widespread: it is held both by pragmatist accounts of slurs, according to which S is semantically equivalent to C, and semantic accounts of slurs, according to which S is expressive of derogatory content additional to the non-pejorative content of C. In the first half of the talk, I urge that this assumption is false. It is no part of the meaning of the N-word to classify subjects as black. To think otherwise is to construe slur-users as having more in common with ‘us’ (those for whom slurs are useless) than they in fact do. The error here, on the part of the orthodoxy, is two-fold: first, there is a failure to acknowledge the fundamentality of the slur-user’s mistake; and second, the attitude taken towards the target group by speakers without a use for slur words is likewise misrepresented. In the final parts of the talk, I encourage an alternative conception of slurs on which they are failed attempts at classification. I argue that slur-users, in their use of slurs, betray a conceptual bankruptcy that is disruptive of their ability to think of their targets at all. Although this is apt to encourage parallels with empty terms such as ‘phlogiston’, I suggest that such parallels can only be taken so far.

Rose Ryan Flinn (NYU) is currently completing her PhD at New York University. Her dissertation is on various forms of non-reductionism in the philosophy of language, aesthetics, and philosophical logic.


The talk will be held on Zoom, you can join the session via the following link.


zoom Link

Meeting ID: 634 7426 3316
Password: 403989


You will also be able to use this Zoom link for our further conversations this term.

  • June 23th (4pm to 6pm), Lucilla Guidi, TBA


For more information, additional reading and registration please cotact: jonas.held(a)