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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Sara Ruddick – – Hypatia 21 2: Let me offer an illustration of this.

Alcof examples of anthropologist’s concern with this issue see Writing Culture: This issue of who gets to speak for whom comes up a lot in my research. Constructing hypotheses about the possible connections between our location and our words is one way to begin.

Thus, the question of whether location bears simply on what is taken to be true or what is really true, and whether such a distinction can be upheld, involves the very difficult problem of the meaning of truth.

The Problem of Speaking For Others

These are feminist texts, and yet I write in ways that are frequently critical of them. And this is simply because we cannot neatly separate off oc mediating praxis which interprets and constructs our experiences from the praxis of others. In rejecting a general retreat from speaking for, I am not advocating a return to an unself-conscious appropriation of the other, but rather that anyone who speaks for others should only do so out of a concrete analysis of the particular power relations and discursive effects involved.

Not only what is emphasized, noticed, and how it is understood will be affected by the location of both speaker and hearer, but the truth-value or epistemic status will also be affected.

But the second premise suggests that some voices may be dis-authorized on grounds which are simultaneously political and epistemic.

On a coherentist account of truth, which is held by such philosophers as Rorty, Donald Davidson, Quine, and I would argue Gadamer and Foucault, truth is defined as an emergent property of converging discursive prkblem non-discursive elements, when there exists a specific form of integration among these elements in a particular event.


When meaning is plural and deferred, we can never hope to know the totality of effects. There is a strong, albeit contested, current within feminism which holds that speaking for otherseven for other womenis arrogant, vain, unethical, and politically illegitimate. The recognition that there is a problem in thee for others has followed from the widespread acceptance of two claims.

For example, in many situations when a woman speaks the presumption is against her; when a man speaks he is usually taken seriously unless his speech patterns mark him as socially inferior by dominant standards. The declaration that I “speak only for myself” has the sole effect of allowing me to avoid responsibility and accountability for my effects on others; it cannot literally erase those effects.

First I want to consider the argument that the very formulation of the problem with speaking for others involves a retrograde, metaphysically insupportable essentialism that assumes one can read off the truth and meaning of what one says straight from the discursive context.

Such a concept would require truth to be independent of the speakers’ or listeners’ embodied and perspectival location. Thus I would maintain fr if the practice of speaking for others is problematic, so too must be the practice of speaking about others.

This last bit is inspired by some people I know who are in the fields of social work and psychology who do research on sex workers and the sex trade industry. Sign in to use this feature.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others – Hook & Eye

The Problem of Speaking For Others. To say that location bears on meaning and truth is not the same as prooblem that location determines meaning and truth.

If I am only speaking for myself I have no responsibility for being true to your speakibg or needs. It leaves for the listeners all the real work that needs to be done. Science Logic and Mathematics. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg Chicago: But as Maria Lugones and others have forcefully argued, such an act tue no good end when it is used as a disclaimer against one’s ignorance or errors and is made without critical interrogation of the bearing of such an autobiography on what is about to be said.

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This response is motivated in part by the desire to recognize difference and different priorities, without organizing these differences into hierarchies. Freedom, Identity, and Rights. To answer this, we must become clearer on the epistemological and metaphysical claims which are implicit in the articulation of the problem.

Given that interpretations zlcoff meanings are discursive constructions made by embodied speakers, Trebilcot worries that attempting to persuade or speak for another will cut off that person’s ability or willingness to engage in the constructive act of developing meaning. While the prerogative of speaking for others remains unquestioned in the citadels of colonial administration, among activists otherw in the academy it elicits a growing unease and, in some communities of discourse, it is being rejected.

On the Problem of Speaking for Others

The source of a claim or discursive practice in suspect motives or maneuvers or in privileged social locations, I have argued, though it is always relevant, cannot be sufficient to repudiate it. The feminist movement in the U.

This was part of the argument made against Anne Cameron’s speaking for Native women: When I “speak for myself” I am participating in the creation and reproduction of discourses through which my own and other selves are constituted.

In other words, a speaker’s location which I take here to refer to her social location or social identity has an epistemically significant impact on that speaker’s claims, and can serve either to authorize or dis-authorize one’s speech.

Dennett – – Raritan 9: In the history of Western philosophy, there have existed multiple, competing definitions and ontologies of truth: In speaking for myself, Alcotf momentarily create my selfjust as much as when I speak for others I create them as a public, discursive self, a self which is more unified than any subjective experience can support.