Cattedra Rotelli

Cattedra Rotelli

Lectures 2018 Rae Helen Langton

Rae Helen Langton is Professor of Philosophy at University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Newnham College. Prior to this, she was Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2004-12. She works in Ethics, Political Philosophy, History of Philosophy (especially Kant), Metaphysics and Feminist Philosophy.  She is the author of Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification (Oxford, 2009) and Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves (Oxford, 1998). She has published in a variety of journals including Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and the Philosophical Review. Born and raised in India, she has taught Philosophy in Australia, India, Scotland, England and the USA. Langton was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013 and into the British Academy in 2017. In 2015, she gave the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford. She is working on Accommodating Injustice (monograph forthcoming with Oxford University Press) published version of the John Locke Lectures.



  • Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves Oxford: Oxford University Press 1998.
  • Sexual Solipsism, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009.
  • Accommodating Injustice (forthcoming per Oxford University Press) raccoglie i testi delle lezioni tenute all’interno delle John Locke Lectures.


  • Objective and Unconditioned Value‘, Philosophical Review 116 (2007), forthcoming.
  • Kant’s Phenomena: Extrinsic or Relational properties? A Reply to Allais’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming).
  • ‘Disenfranchised Silence’, in Common Minds: Essays in Honour of Philip Pettit, ed. Geoffrey Brennan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) (in press).
  • Feminism in Philosophy‘, The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Analytic Philosophy,eds. Frank Jackson and Michael Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 231-57.
  • Projection and Objectification‘, The Future for Philosophy, ed. Brian Leiter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • Elusive Knowledge of Things in Themselves‘, Australasian Journal of Philosophy special issue honoring David Lewis, ed. Frank Jackson, 82 (2004), 129-36.
  • Intention as Faith‘, Philosophy (Proceedings of Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on Action and Agency, 2002); and in Action and Agency, ed. Helen Steward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
  • Kantian Humility: Reply to Lorne Falkenstein‘, Kantian Review 5 (2001), 64-72.
  • ‘Problems from Kant, by James van Cleve’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2001), 211-8 (Symposium contribution).
  • Virtues of Resentment‘, Utilitas 13 (2001), 255-62, special issue on ‘Character and Consequence’, ed. Julia Driver.
  • Marshall and Parsons on “Intrinsic”‘, co-authored with David Lewis, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2001), 1-3.
  • The Musical, the Magical and the Mathematical Soul‘, The History of the Mind Body Problem, eds. Tim Crane and Sarah Patterson (London: Routledge, 2000), 13-33.
  • Locke’s Relations and God’s Good Pleasure‘, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2000, 75-91.
  • Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game‘, co-authored with Caroline West, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1999), 303-19. Reprinted: Langton, Sexual Solipsism.
  • Feminism in Epistemology: Exclusion and Objectification‘, Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy, eds. Jennifer Hornsby and Miranda Fricker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 127-145. Reprinted: Langton, Sexual Solipsism.
  • Pornography: a Liberal’s Unfinished Business‘, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Special Issue on Legal Theory (1999), ed. Wilfrid Waluchow, 109-133. Reprinted (excerpt): Langton, Sexual Solipsism.
  • Empathy and Animal Ethics‘, co-authored with Richard Holton, Singer and His Critics, ed. Dale Jamieson (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1998), 209-32.
  • Defining ‘Intrinsic’‘ (1998), co-authored with David Lewis, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58.
  • Free Speech and Illocution‘ (1998), co-authored with Jennifer Hornsby, Legal Theory 4, 21-38.
  • Subordination, Silence, and Pornography’s Authority‘, Censorship and Silencing: Practices of Cultural Regulation, ed. R. Post (J. Paul Getty Trust and Oxford University Press, 1998), 261-84.
  • Love and Solipsism‘ (1997), Love Analyzed, ed. Roger Lamb (Westview Press) 123-152.
  • ‘Pornography, Speech Acts and Silence’ (1997) in Ethics in Practice, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell).
  • Sexual Solipsism‘ (1995), Philosophical Topics 23 No. 2, ed. Sally Haslanger, 181-219.
  • ‘Receptivity and Kantian Humility’ (1994), Australasian Society for the History of Philosophy Yearbook, ed. K. Haakonssen (RSSS, ANU) 1-25.
  • Beyond a Pragmatic Critique of Reason‘ (1993), Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 No. 4, 364-84.
  • ‘Locke’s Mechanism: Relations and God’s Good Pleasure’ (1993), Australasian Society for the History of Philosophy Yearbook, ed. K. Haakonssen (RSSS, ANU) 66-88.
  • ‘Inverted Spectrum Revisited’ (1993), Themes from Wittgenstein: Working Papers in Philosophy No. 3, eds. Brian Garrett and Kevin Mulligan (RSSS, ANU) 106-119.
  • ‘Stich on Intentionality and Naturalism’ (1993), Prospects for Intentionality: Working Papers in Philosophy No. 2, ed. Karen Neander (RSSS, ANU).
  • Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts‘ (1993), Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 No. 4, 305-330. Reprinted in Freedom of Communication in Australia , eds. T. Campbell & W. Sadurski (Dartmouth University Press, 1994). Reprinted in The Problem of Pornography, ed. Sue Dwyer (Wadsworth, 1995). Reprinted in Applied Ethics in American Society eds. Michelfelder and Wilcox (Harcourt Brace, 1996).
  • Duty and Desolation‘ (1992), Philosophy 67, 481-505. Reprinted as ‘Maria von Herbert’s Challenge to Kant’, in Ethics: the Oxford Reader, ed. P. Singer (Oxford University Press, 1994). Reprinted in Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life, eds. R. Fogelin, C. Hoff-Sommers, F. Sommers (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1996).
  • Whose right? Ronald Dworkin, women, and pornographers‘ (1990), Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 No. 4, 311-359. Reprinted in The Philosopher’s Annual 1990, eds. Grim, Mar and Williams (Ridgeview, 1992). Reprinted in The Problem of Pornography, ed. Sue Dwyer (Wadsworth, 1995). Reprinted in Feminist Legal Theory, ed. K. Weisberg (Temple University Press, 1996).

Lessons program

Professor Langton will hold a course entitled Speech Acts and the Accommodation of Injustice.

The five lessons that make up the course will be held from March 19, 2018 to March 23, 2018 between 14:00 and 17:00 in the Newton classroom (DIBIT 1).

  • Monday 19 march 2018 – 14:00-17:00

Rae Helen Langton (Newnham College, Cambridge) – The authority of hate speech

DiscussantClaudia Bianchi (CRESA, UniSR); Roberto Mordacci (IRCECP – CeSEP, UniSR)

General discussion

  • Tuesday 20 march 2018 – 14:00-17:00

Rae Helen Langton (Newnham College, Cambridge) – How to build a norm from a speech act

DiscussantFrancesca De Vecchi (PERSONA – gender, UniSR); Martina Trombin (UniSR)

General discussion

  • Wednesday 21 march 2018 – 14:00-17:00

Rae Helen Langton (Newnham College, Cambridge) – Informative presupposition as back-door testimony

Discussant: Raffaele Ariano (CRISI, UniSR); Bianca Cepollaro (UniSR)

General discussion

  • Thursday 22 march 2018 – 14:00-17:00

Rae Helen Langton (Newnham College, Cambridge) – Accommodation and retroactive force

Discussant: Laura Caponetto (UniSR); Nicole Miglio (UniSR)

General discussion

  • Fraiday 23 march 2018 – 14:00-17:00

Rae Helen Langton (Newnham College, Cambridge) – Blocking as counter-speech

Discussant: Marina Sbisà (gender – Trieste); Alice Giordano (DIAPOREIN, UniSR)

General discussion

Not only words: seminars to prepare lessons for the Cattedra Rotelli

Aula Newton The authority of hate speech How to build a norm from a speech act Informative presupposition as back-door testimony Accommodation and retroactive force

Not only words: seminars to prepare lessons for Cattedra Rotelli

Seminars to prepare lessons for Cattedra Rotelli

curated by Claudia Bianchi and Laura Caponetto

Wednesday 13 December 2017 - 11-13 hours

Aula San Tommaso (DIBIT 1)

Laura Caponetto (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University) - "Linguistic acts, subordination and reduction to silence"

Abstract: One of the most interesting declinations of the subject of discrimination in philosophy of language is linked to what has become common to call hate speech (or hatred language). The aim of the seminar is to offer, starting from the works of Rae Langton, an analysis of the ordinary instances of hatred language in terms of linguistic acts of subordination. Taking up the Austinian framework, this perspective focuses not so much on what the hate language says, as on what the speakers do in cases of ordinary hate speech. Emphasis will be placed on how language contributes to creating and reinforcing social inequalities and on how the words of some have the ability to take away from other fundamental civil rights (first and foremost, the right to freedom of expression).

Tuesday 19 December 2017 - 2 - 4 pm

Aula San Tommaso (DIBIT 1)

Laura Caponetto (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University) - "Speakers, authorities and conversational dynamics"

Abstract: The problem of authority is one of the thorniest objections to the conception of the language of hatred in terms of linguistic acts of subordination. These are classified by Langton as verdicts or exercises - illocutions which give rights and powers to certain individuals, and deprive others of rights and powers. In light of some Austin considerations, Langton groups verdicts and exercises in the class of authoritative speech acts: acts for which the speaker must enjoy authority in the relevant domain. In most examples of hatred language (think of cases of verbal aggression on the street or in public places), the speaker does not seem to possess any kind of authority. It should follow that, with his words, he cannot happily perform acts of subordination. The objective of the seminar is to analyze the model of conversational exercises by Mary Kate McGowan and to assess the extent to which it can offer a solution to the problem.

Wednesday 20 December 2017 - 11-13 hours

Aula San Tommaso (DIBIT 1)

Laura Caponetto (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University) - "How to combat the languages ​​of hatred: good speech, bad speech and counter-speech"

Abstract: In the last few years, Langton has refined his strategy of treating hatred languages, drawing on the notion of licensed authority introduced by Ishani Maitra. The core of the new proposal is this: any ordinary speaker can acquire authority if he behaves as if he had it and none of the onlookers intervenes by questioning it. A white man gets on a tram, he begins to scream words of denigration at a young Arab woman, and by that very fact (and nothing more) manages to assign her an inferior status - but only on condition that the spectators remain silent. The proposal, which will be analyzed in detail during the seminar, turns the spotlight on the complicity of the onlookers, including those who, in their hearts, do not share the words spoken by the speaker. At the same time, it reveals an interesting mechanism to counteract the languages ​​of hatred: objecting, breaking the silence, opposing the linguistic acts of hatred so as to block its happy execution.

Tuesday 6 February 2018 - 11-13 hours

Aula Agnodice (DIBIT 1)

Robert Mark Simpson (University College London) – “Scorekeeping and Social Theory”

Abstract: David Lewis’s account of “conversational scorekeeping” has proven useful in making sense of certain social phenomena involving language and communication. Lewis shows how conversations are a rule-governed activity, but in an unusually flexible sense, in that they can accommodate certain kinds of departures from “proper play” without breaking down. Lewis developed his account in part to flesh out elements of his philosophy of language, including his contextualist semantics for terms like “knowledge”. But philosophers like Mary Kate McGowan and Rae Langton have put Lewis’s framework to other uses, including explaining how identity-prejudicial speech can oppress or subordinate its targets. In this seminar we will review Lewis’s account, and critically examine its application in McGowan and Langton’s work.

Aula San Tommaso

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