What’s so bad about generic language?
CEPDISC Seminar with Visiting Reseacher Olivier Lemeire, Senior postdoctoral fellow FWO Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven
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Generics are unquantified generalizations of the form “Ks are F.” In recent years, several people have argued that there is something distinctly bad about generics used to describe social groups (e.g., “Muslims are terrorists”, “Women are nurturing”), compared to explicitly quantified generalizations. Work in psychology and philosophy suggests that generics are particularly prone to leading to reasoning mistakes and communicative mistakes, a fact that can also be exploited by political actors. In this talk, I describe some of the ways in which generic language may facilitate bad reasoning and communication, and suggest an explanation of what it is about the meaning of generics that causes this.
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