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How Language Offends

How can words fluctuate both in their status as slurs and in their power to offend? Members of targeted groups themselves are not always offended by slurs ─ consider the uses of appropriated or reclaimed slurs among African-Americans and gay people. The consensus answer among philosophers to the first question is that slurs, as a matter of convention, signal negative attitudes towards targeted groups. Those who pursue this answer are committed to the view that slurs carry offensive content or meaning; they disagree only over the mechanisms of implementation.
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