What can failed-out groups attempts at reappropriation tell us about slurs’ offensiveness? - JJ Lang
In this paper I consider an overlooked class of uses of slurs, where an out-group speaker attempts to tap into an existing practice of in-group speakers (reappropriation) using the slur to do something non-derogatory, is recognized for her intention, and nevertheless still offends, harm, or otherwise causes some general feeling of discomfort in her audience. After canvassing the existing treatments of reappropriation in the literature to demonstrate that this class of uses is actually overlooked, I make a negative and a positive claim. First, the negative claim is that the discomfort caused by these uses of slurs cannot be fully explained by the speaker's failing to meet some pre-determined and publicly accessible authority conditions (in an Austinian sense). Second, the positive claim is that while no such authority conditions exist, the discomfort can be explained by taking the speaker to be presumptuous in the sense that she presupposes that such conditions do exist and that she is in the position to determine whether she meets them.