The Department of Philosophy hosted the first discussion in our series #philosophyresponds: Conversations After the Election on Friday, January 20th. The goal of these conversations is to think productively about how the Department of Philosophy community can reach out beyond the classroom by deploying the tools, skills, and content of philosophy to grapple with pressing social issues.
The first topic, “Hate Speech and Slurs,” was led by Professor Luvell Anderson of University of Memphis, and UW Professors Michael Blake and Paul Franco.
The speakers discussed the viability of different interventions aimed at counteracting infusions of toxic speech into the public discourse. They discussed how institutions, such as our university, are able speak back to hate speech and defend its students, faculty and staff against it.
Discussing general use and interpretations of slurs, they pointed out that it is a misconception that “one cannot make racist comments if one is not racist,” and identified how hateful speech operates beyond the use of outright slurs through the use of coded language such as“inner city”. Furthermore, they drew distinctions between cognitive and emotional or visceral responses to hate speech, pointing out that bodily reactions to being under attack physically hamper one from “fighting hate speech with more speech” in the moment.
Brief presentations by the panelists were followed by a productive discussion with faculty and students who had gathered from many departments. Discussion spurred by participants centered on such questions like whether it is possible to “flip” or repurpose slurs in a way that robs them of their damaging power, or what the utility or limits are of combatting hate speech with humor and satire.
We encourage our participants to continue this conversation beyond the gathering.
#philosophyresponds: Conversations After the Election has three more planned conversations on Fridays from 1:30 to 2:30 pm outside of Savery Room 361:
February 3, 2017
Facts and Fake News
Amanda Hornby, Head of Teaching & Learning, Odegaard Library
Morag Stewart, Philosophy Librarian, UW Libraries
Ben Feintzeig, UW Philosophy
Dustyn Addington, UW Philosophy
February 17, 2017
Recognizing and Combatting Racism and Sexism
Carina Fourie, UW Philosophy
Sara Goering, UW Philosophy
Tim Brown, UW Philosophy
March 10, 2017
Bill Talbott, UW Philosophy
Sam Sumpter, UW Philosophy
Lydia Ramirez, UW Philosophy