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Women in Philosophy: MARI MIKKOLA (Oxford):  “Self-Trust and Discriminatory Speech

Donnerstag, 29.11.2018

DATE:     December 7, 2:00pm — 4:00pm
VENUE:  UR.09.51, Department of Philosophy, Heinrichstraße 26/5, 8010 Graz, Austria

Abstract: This talk considers how a certain type of prejudicial speech, discriminatory speech that reflects social group stereotypes and represents group members as inferior by virtue of these stereotypes, hampers epistemic autonomy in eroding and perverting intellectual self-trust. Freedom of speech is a central liberal value. However, if left unchecked, it can engender morally problematic and socially undesirable expressions. Virulent hate speech can thus be legitimately regulated without compromising free expression. Nonetheless, discriminatory speech is legally protected e. g. in USA. Although this sort of speech is taken to be socially undesirable and harmful in some sense, liberal philosophers have argued for its legal permissibility on the grounds that its harmfulness is mitigable: discriminatory speech (the argument goes) still advances significant and compelling free speech interests due to which it deserves legal protection, despite being odious. The interests typically appealed to include the pursuit of truth and knowledge, ensuring democratic deliberation, and fostering personal autonomy and individual progress. By contrast, this talk argues that looking at how discriminatory speech seemingly influences us in deeply covert and hard-to-detect ways undermines liberal arguments that advance a ›hands- off‹ policy to discriminatory speech. In short: Intellectual self- trust is a necessary condition for the pursuit of knowledge and for fostering (personal and epistemic) autonomy; but since discriminatory speech erodes and perverts self-trust, it undermines in subtle, covert, and insidious ways the very grounds supposedly justifying its permissibility. This (the paper argues) becomes particularly clear once we appreciate how discriminatory expressions shape and maintain prejudicial unconscious influences.

WOMEN IN PHILOSOPHY is a series of lectures organized by the Philosophy Department
at the University of Graz. The objectives of the series are to promote philosophy in Graz and to
narrow the gender gap in the profession.  The events will bring some of the world´s leading philosophers and thereby facilitate the contact of students and faculty with internationally acclaimed women philosophers.

Attendance is free and everybody is welcome!
For further information please contact the organizers:

Martina Fürst: martina.fuerst@uni-graz.at
Sonja Rinofner: sonja.rinofner@uni-graz.at
Amelie Stuart: amelie.stuart@uni-graz.at

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