How can our words help or harm the principles of justice, authority and knowledge?
These questions will be addressed by Faculty of Philosophy Professor Rae Langton at this year's prestigious Hägerström Lectures at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
Professor Langton, who has written on Kant's moral philosophy and is well-known for her work on ethics, feminism and objectification, has been invited to present a series of five lectures on the theme of "Accommodating Injustice". These lectures will examine how we use language, and how what we do with words can exploit what Professor Langton calls the "rules of accommodation".
Professor Langton said:
"Words can help or hinder justice in ways that exploit rules of accommodation: a process of adjustment that tends to make speech acts count as ‘correct play’. Speech acts follow rules of accommodation. Authority, norms and knowledge can likewise follow rules of accommodation, in ways that contribute to injustice. Accommodation allows speakers and hearers to build unjust norms and patterns of authority, sexual subordination, and racial hatred. ‘Back-door’ speech acts work subtly, via presupposition, generics, thick concepts and epithets".
The University of Uppsala is Sweden's oldest university, and was founded in 1477. In 1970, the Hägerström Lectures were created as a means of inviting an internationally known philosopher for a week to give five lectures on a common theme. The list of speakers include many of the twentieth century's most eminent philosophers such as W.V. Quine, David Lewis, Alonzo Church, Amartya Sen, Donald Davidson, Martha Nussbaum and Hilary Putnam. The Hägerström lectures were given on a yearly basis until 2009, and are now every two years.
Professor Langton will give her first lecture on Monday 30 November and the series will run until 4 December.
For more information, see the Hägerström Lectures website, at Uppsala University's Department of Philosophy.