A theory of slurring terms must explain how and why uses of slurs function to dehumanize. On extant expressivist views, speakers express contempt for targets on account of being in the group. This chapter argues that explaining how slurs dehumanize requires more than encoding the speaker’s contempt toward the target and group. It requires appreciating the intricate moral-psychological structure of contempt, in particular that contempt, as a moral emotion, involves taking those properties that are the basis for regarding the target contemptuously as fundamental to the targets’ identity as a person. This feature of contempt is reflected in slurs’ semantics. Understanding contempt is also needed to defend expressivism from important objections.
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