Alcoff’s widely-cited article titled, exactly: “The problem of speaking for others.” Alcoff’s essay is a review of the arguments that have been presented by. ; revised and reprinted in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity edited by Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, University of Illinois Press, ; and . The Problem of Speaking for Others. Author(s): Linda Alcoff. Source: Cultural Critique, No. 20 (Winter, ), pp. Published by: University of.

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As a side note, I am somewhat concerned with the tendency in some academic circles to demand self-identification as a way of justifying your right to speak on a particular issue. Hegel, for example, understood truth as an “identity in difference” between subjective and objective elements.

The Problem of Speaking For Others |

Each line had people in it. This loss of control may be taken by some speakers to mean that no speaker can be held accountable for her discursive actions. This question has come up for me repeatedly in my own research on feminist magazines like BUST and Bitch.

Such a concept would require truth to be independent of the speakers’ ror listeners’ embodied and perspectival location. Alcogf are two premises implied by the articulation of the problem, and unpacking these should advance our understanding of the issues involved.

Dennett – – Raritan 9: Adopting the position that one should only speak for oneself raises similarly difficult questions. Let me offer an illustration of this. University of Illinois Press, In this case, we might say that I should only speak for groups of which I am a member.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others

Elliot Yale Neaman – – Critical Review 2 In the history of Western philosophy, there have existed multiple, competing definitions and ontologies of truth: Group identities and boundaries are ambiguous and permeable, and decisions about demarcating identity are always partly arbitrary.

The term privilege is not meant to include positions of discursive power achieved through merit, but in any case these are rarely pure. And moreover, the better we understand the trajectories by which meanings proliferate, the more likely we can increase, though always only partially, our ability to direct the interpretations and transformations our speech undergoes.


Edited by Linda L. There was one woman in line. First, there has been a growing awareness that where one speaks from affects both the meaning and truth of what one says, and thus that one cannot assume an ability to transcend her location. Given that the context of hearers is partially determinant, the speaker is not the master or mistress of rhe situation.

In the examples used above, there may appear to be a conflation between the issue of speaking for others and the issue of speaking about others. In particular, is it ever valid to speak for others who are unlike me or who are less problwm than me?

Any statement will invoke the structures of power allied with the social location of the alcof, aside from the speaker’s intentions or attempts to avoid such invocations. New York University Press.

When we sit down to write, or get up to speak, we experience ourselves as making choices. We can de-privilege the “original” author and reconceptualize ideas as probem almost freely in a discursive space, available from many locations, and without a clearly identifiable originary track, and yet retain our sense that source remains relevant to effect.

Links Contact Blog Online Writing. Trebilcot is explaining here her own reasoning for rejecting these practices, but she is not advocating that other women join her in this.

At a recent symposium at my university, a prestigious theorist was invited to give a lecture on the political problems of post-modernism. Adequate research will be a necessary but insufficient criterion of evaluation.

The phrase “bears on” here should indicate some variable amount of influence short of determination or fixing. And an important implication of this claim is that meaning must be understood as plural and shifting, since a single text can engender diverse meanings given diverse contexts. Linda Bell – unknown. And they would be right that acknowledging the effect of location on meaning and even on whether something is taken as true within a particular discursive context does not entail that the “actual” truth of the claim is contingent upon its context.


Still, it is sometimes called for. The “ritual of speaking” as otheds above in which an utterance is located always bears on meaning and truth such that there is no possibility of rendering positionality, location, or context irrelevant to content. On the one hand, a theory which explains this experience as involving autonomous choices free dor material structures would be false alxoff ideological, but on the other hand, if we do not acknowledge the activity of choice and the experience of individual doubt, we are denying a reality of our experiential lives.

However, they are meant only to suggest the speakint that fod be asked concerning any such discursive practice.

Linda Martin Alcoff, The problem of speaking for others – PhilPapers

One of the things your post reminds me of is that the ethics of self- representation are always context-specific and shift around constantly. Spaces in which it may seem as if it is impossible to engage in dialogic encounters need to be transformed in order to do so, such as classrooms, hospitals, workplaces, welfare agencies, universities, institutions for international development and aid, and governments. Interview with Andrew Feenberg. The claim here that “truth is connected to politics” follows necessarily from Premise 1.

Joyce Trebilcot’s version of the retreat response, which I mentioned at the outset of this essay, raises other issues.

Thus, the effect of a U. I shall explore this issue further in the next section. However, we must begin to ask ourselves whether this is ever a legitimate authority, and if so, what are the criteria for legitimacy? This is meant to acknowledge their ithers understanding that they are speaking from a specified, embodied location without pretense alcofc a ths truth.