Inferential Patterns of Emotive Meaning

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This paper investigates the emotive (or expressive) meaning of words commonly referred to as “loaded” or “emotive,” which include slurs, derogative or pejorative words, and ethical terms. We claim that emotive meaning can be analyzed from a argumentative perspective at distinct levels, which can forexplain some essential aspects of ethical terms, including the possibility of modifying and cancelling their “expressive force.” Emotive meaning is explained as a defeasible and automatic or automatized evaluative and intended inference commonly associated with the use of specific terms, which can be represented and assessed considering its logical structure and its defeasibility conditions. This automatic inference is conceived as part of the connotation of an ethical term, and is not necessarily stable. By means of quasi-definitions, it is possible to modify the emotive meaning while maintaining the descriptive one, automaticizing the inferences drawn from an ethical word. Through examples drawn from the recent US presidential campaign, we show how re-contextualization and emotive contexts can affect emotive meaning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInquiries in Philosophical Pragmatics
Subtitle of host publicationIssues in Linguistics
EditorsFabrizio Macagno, Alessandro Capone
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-56696-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-56695-1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


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