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New Work on Speech Acts$
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Daniel Fogal, Daniel W. Harris, and Matt Moss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738831

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198738831.001.0001

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Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation, and Philosophy of Language

Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation, and Philosophy of Language

Chapter:
(p.360) 13 Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation, and Philosophy of Language
Source:
New Work on Speech Acts
Author(s):

Jennifer Saul

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198738831.003.0013

This essay explores the speech act of dogwhistling (sometimes referred to as ‘using coded language’). Dogwhistles may be overt or covert, and within each of these categories may be intentional or unintentional. Dogwhistles are a powerful form of political speech, allowing people to be manipulated in ways they would resist if the manipulation was carried outmore openly—often drawing on racist attitudes that are consciously rejected. If philosophers focus only on content expressed or otherwise consciously conveyed they may miss what is most powerful and pernicious in the speech of political culture. This essay is a call to start paying attention to these more covert speech acts, and a first attempt at beginning to theorize them. It argues that dogwhistles present a complex and interesting case for the philosopher of language, and explores their implications for democratic politics.

Keywords:   dogwhistles, racism, politics, speech acts, implicit political communication, Tali Mendelberg, Willie Horton, Ian HaneyLopez, Jason Stanley, Norm of Racial Equality

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