Mary Kate McGowan

Silencing: On Various Kinds of Communicative Interference and Why They Matter

A Newhouse at Home Presentation by Mary Kate McGowan
Oct 29, 2020, 4–5:15 PM
Open to the Wellesley College campus community only

Lately, there has been quite a lot of discussion – both in academic philosophy and in the media - about silencing. Quite a few interesting, controversial, and even perplexing claims have been made. Pornography is alleged to silence women and the liberal climate on college campuses is alleged to silence conservative voices. These claims seem quite different. The latter seems to concern the unjust punishment or even prevention of speech, but the former does not. This suggests that silencing can manifest in a variety of ways. I argue that it does. The common element, I suggest, is communicative interference. When a person is silenced, that person’s intended (or in some cases potential) communication is thwarted in some important way. Since communication is a complex and multi-faceted process, it can go awry in many different ways. The different sorts of silencing on offer in this project correspond with these different ways that communication can be undermined.

In this project, I distinguish between various kinds of silencing and I offer an account of each. Through an exploration of real world cases (e.g., from law, the media, the classroom, and so on), I also demonstrate that these types of silencing are actualized and why they matter.

Following the presentation, Newhouse Center fellow Veronika Fuechtner (Associate Professor of German Studies, Dartmouth College) will offer commentary on Professor McGowan's research. 

This event will be hosted as a workshop-style presentation and is open only to the Wellesley College community. Pre-registration is required. Please click here to sign up. 

Image Credit:

Mary Kate McGowan