Why Words Hurt: On the Essence of Linguistic Harm Cover Image
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DLACZEGO SŁOWA RANIĄ. O istocie krzywdy językowej
Why Words Hurt: On the Essence of Linguistic Harm

Author(s): Karolina Rozmarynowska
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, Ethics / Practical Philosophy
Published by: Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II - Instytut Jana Pawła II, Wydział Filozofii
Keywords: wrong; harm; language; performativity; John L. Austin; John Searle

Summary/Abstract: The subject of the present article is the nature and source of linguistic harm. The study shows a relation obtaining between two areas, namely: (1) the ethical significance of harm and (2) the performativity of language. Thus the goal of the analyses is to explain how one can harm another simply by using words. The main question concerns the possibility and the determinants of doing harm by means of words. In order to address this question the authoress explains the ethical significance of harm, distinguishes its emotional side from the factual one, and reflects on the role of intention in harm-doing, as well as on its effects. Then she points out the difference, on the one hand between a linguistic act and speech and on the other hand between a linguistic act and physical action. She also attempts to determine what statements have a hurtful power and what the source of this power is. In her reflections, she refers to the classical concepts of speech acts coined by John L. Austin and John Searle. According to these authors, side by side with constative statements, there exist performative statements, which have a causative power. Thus hurting with words is possible, because by using language we not only describe the reality, but also change it.

  • Issue Year: 31/2018
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 127-141
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: Polish