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Just Words – On Speech and Hidden Harm - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm

Mary Kate McGowan


We all know that speech is harmful but we need to be as clear as possible about what the harms are and how the speech in question brings about those harms. Clarity on these two points is important for jurisprudential reasons. It is also important for social, political, and moral reasons. Just Words identifies a previously overlooked mechanism by which speech constitutes, rather than merely causes, harm. Speech constitutes harm when it enacts a norm that prescribes that harm (so that following the norm brings about the harm). Just Words argues that there is a ubiquitous but hidden way that spee ... More

Keywords: Language, speech act, free speech, silencing, exercitive, harm

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198829706
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198829706.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mary Kate McGowan, author
Margaret Clapp '30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of Philosophy, Wellesley College