Annual Kissel Lecture in Ethics by Rae Langton


Thursday, November 17, 2016, 5:00pm to 6:30pm


Emerson Hall, Room 210, Harvard Yard

This lecture is named for the late Lester Kissel, a graduate of Harvard Law School and longtime benefactor of Harvard University's ethics programs and activities.

Speaker: Professor Rae Langton

Title: "Blocking as Counter-Speech"

It is widely thought that evil speech should be fought with more speech, not bans. There are well-known limits on the effectiveness of counter-speech, but my topic here is chiefly its scope. Counter-speech can work by undoing, rather than refuting, evil speech: by blocking its felicity conditions and (relatedly) its presuppositions, and thus disabling its harmful force. This brings out an unnoticed dimension to counter-speech, and highlights an unnoticed capacity of hearers and bystanders.

See also: Ethics