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Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and The Arts Events, 2019/2020

Unless otherwise stated, CRPLA seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30-7:00pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact Diarmiud Costello:

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CRPLA Seminar: Daniel Abrahams (Glasgow), 'Taming the culture war: A theory of why people fight over humour'

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Abstract: In one way or another, humour seems to frequently play a central role in culture war battles. Comedians like Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle are presented as central figures. Commentators argue over which politicians are actually funny, and which comedies ‘belong’ to which parties. People at least seem to expect satire to have a meaningful political effect. Rather than engage culture war issues on their own terms, what I want to do is engage at a prior point and ask what is it about humour that makes humour and humourists contested in the first place.


My main contention will be that humour is seen as valuable and values can confer legitimacy. This leads to values becoming goods so that parties can hoard sources of legitimacy. When values confer legitimacy, values become goods.What I have to show, then, is what it is about humour that leads people to see it as conferring legitimacy. Legitimacy means right to rule, so I want to tease out the different ways that humour can be taken to confer that right to rule.

Microsoft Teams meeting

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