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On Thursday 9th November, Dr Mihaela Popa-Wyatt (University of Manchester) will give a talk entitled ‘Norm-Shifting through Oppressive Acts.

This paper explains how social norms are changed by oppressive speech. Mary Kate McGowan (2019, 2012, 2009) argues that norm shifting is an effect of a move within a norm-governed activity. Thus, moves in a conversational game change the norms of that conversational game. McGowan also argues that an individual act can constitute multiple, parallel moves in multiple games. She then argues that oppressive utterances enact harmful norms in a norm-governed activity of social oppression. Because of this enacting of harmful norms in activities that persist beyond the conversation, McGowan concludes that an act of oppressive speech constitutes harm beyond the immediate conversational effects.

This paper identifies and explains a phenomenon I term the carryover effect. I argue that parallel moves are insufficient to account for carry-over effects. The solution is a hierarchy of games. Specifically, a conversational game is embedded in a larger social game. Each game has a separate but related set of roles for participants and targets. I show how this provides a solution to the problem of carry-over effects. In particular, I argue that the idea of invited inference explains the fallacious reasoning that audience members employ in order to export conversational low-power roles to corresponding social roles. I discuss two candidate mechanisms that explain an incremental shift in social norms: a Bayesian rule of belief/attitude updating and an association rule between the target and low-power roles based on group-membership.

The talk will take place from 15:30 to 17:00 in the Old Committee Room (K2.30) in the King’s Building. All are welcome. If you are not affiliated with King's and would like to attend, please drop Lucy an email.

At this event

Lucy McDonald profile photo_Lucy Mcdonald

Lecturer in Ethics

Event details

Old Committee Room (K2.30)
King's Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS