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Dangerous Jokes: How Racism and Sexism Weaponize Humor (Hardcover)

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People often get away with belittling others if they frame their speech as jokes-speech that would be condemned if stated seriously. "It's just a joke," they say. But what is different or special about joking? And if jokes about lawyers and politicians are morally acceptable, then what is wrong with joking about race or gender? Furthermore, if we may joke about a politician's shirts, may we joke about his weight? People who are targeted by demeaning jokes feel their impact but may not be able to pinpoint where the harm lies.

Dangerous Jokes develops a novel, well-researched, and compelling argument that lays bare the power of demeaning jokes in ordinary conversations. Claire Horisk draws on her expertise in philosophy of language and on evidence from sociology, law and cognitive science to explain how the element of humor-so often used as a defence-makes jokes more potent than regular speech in communicating prejudice and reinforcing social hierarchies. She addresses the morality of telling, being amused by, and laughing at, derogatory jokes, and she gives a new account of listening that addresses the morality of listening to demeaning speech. She leaves us with no illusions about whether "it's just a joke" is an excuse for demeaning humor.

About the Author

Claire Horisk is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri, specializing in philosophy of language. Her current research focuses on how language shapes society. She is the author of Dangerous Jokes: How Racism and Sexism Weaponize Humor (OUP). Her published work also includes articles about the nature of truth, theories of meaning, contextualism, and animal communication.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780197691496
ISBN-10: 0197691498
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024
Pages: 232
Language: English