- In what ways does language shape ethical debate?
- To what extent is ‘calling a spade a spade’ a neutral position?
- In what other ethical debates is language a central issue?
- To what extent are our ethical positions limited or liberalised by the language we use?
Language can be used in many different ways to shape an ethical debate in positive and negative ways as to position audiences who are neutral, against an idea, or for an idea to join a side. Language shapes a debate because the implications and connotations affects reasoning and also shapes a person to an idea. Language can also shape a debate because of context; i.e where a statement is taken out of context it can be used for many different purposes. One way of avoiding this is to use ‘more to the point’ words. Another way language can shape ethical debate is by what is actually said and the affect it has on the situation. i.e Calling asylum seekers ‘illegals’ focuses on their mode of entry instead of their reason for entry. Also there are terms and definitions attached to a words i.e an asylum seeker is someone that is ‘looking for asylum’ in a country while calling someone an illegal means that they have ‘illegally’ entered a country’s borders.
The extent to which ‘calling a spade a spade’ is not a neutral position as it deals with perception. What seems to be a ‘spade’ might actually be a ‘shovel’. That is the problem with the use of language, in numerous cases, there is not a single word that encapsulates the situation.