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Sticks and Stones – The Philosophy of Insults - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Sticks and Stones: The Philosophy of Insults

Jerome Neu


The schoolyard wisdom about “sticks and stones” does not take one very far: insults do not take the form only of words, in truth even words have effects, and in the end the popular as well as the standard legal distinctions between speech and conduct are at least as problematic as they are helpful. To think clearly about how much we should put up with those who would put us down, it is necessary to explore the nature and place of insult in our lives. What kind of injury is an insult? Is its infliction determined by the insulter or the insulted? What does it reveal of the character of each and ... More

Keywords: insult, speech and conduct, conventions, play, jokes, ritual, war, blasphemy, defamation, hate speech, dominance, power, forgive

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2007 Print ISBN-13: 9780195314311
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314311.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jerome Neu, author
University of California, Santa Cruz
Author Webpage