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Listening and Normative Entanglement: A Pragmatic Foundation for Conversational Ethics

NOTESS, SUSAN,EMILY (2021) Listening and Normative Entanglement: A Pragmatic Foundation for Conversational Ethics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



People care very much about being listened to. In everyday talk, we make moral-sounding judgements of people as listeners: praising a doctor who listens well even if she does not have a ready solution, or blaming a boss who does not listen even if the employee manages to get her situation addressed. In this sense, listening is a normative behaviour: that is, we ought to be good listeners. Whilst several disciplines have addressed the normative importance of interpersonal listening—particularly in sociology, psychology, media and culture studies—analytic philosophy does not have a framework for dealing with listening as a normative interpersonal behaviour. Listening usually gets reduced mere speech-parsing (in philosophy of language), or into a matter of belief and trust in the testimony of credible knowers (in social epistemology). My preliminary task is to analyse why this reductive view is taken for granted in the discipline; to diagnose the problem behind the reduction and propose a more useful alternative approach. The central task of my work is to give an account of listening which captures its distinctively normative quality as an interpersonal way of relating to someone: one listens not because the speaker is an epistemic expert, but because the speaker is a person, worthy of recognition and care. I created a framework which accomplishes this by deploying the conceptual resources of conversation sociology and psycholinguistics, in counterpoint to the standing philosophical work on the ethics and politics of speech and silencing, to create a practical ethics of listening to people.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:listening, ethics, morality, talk, communication, ecology, discourse, pragmatics, conversation analysis, philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Mar 2021 17:39

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