Fictional terms have null extensions, and in this regard pejorative terms are a species of fictional term: although there are Jews, there are no kikes. The central consequence of the Moral and Semantic Innocence (MSI) view of Hom and May (2013) is that for pejoratives, null extensionality is the semantic realization of the moral fact that no one ought to be the target of negative moral evaluation solely in virtue of their group membership. In having null extensions, pejorative terms are much like mythological terms like "unicorn horn" that express concepts with empty extensions: people who believed the mythology were misled into thinking that ordinary objects (i.e., whale tusks) were magical objects, and pejorative terms work likewise. In this chapter, the consequences of this parallelism are explored, with an eye to criticisms of MSI. The chapter concludes with meta-semantic reflections on the nature of word meanings.
|Title of host publication||Bad Words|
|Subtitle of host publication||Philosophical Perspectives on Slurs|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Number of pages||24|
|State||Published - Aug 23 2018|
- Fictional terms
- Mythological terms