Apparently I harbour a whole lot of hate I didn’t know about. I’d have thought hatred is a sufficiently powerful emotion that I’d feel it. But the fact that I don’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not there. For example, I thought I harbour no ill will against trans women. But because I don’t think trans women shot putters should be allowed to compete against women shot putters, I must hate them. Because I think we should exhume at least one body in that orchard in Kamloops before we decide there was an atrocity committed there, I must hate all Indigenous people. Because I deny that slavery was imported to North America in 1619 I must hate all Blacks. And because I’ve criticized the State of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, I must hate all Jews, myself included.

Alternatively, hate might just be one of those words that’s undergone what Nick Haslam calls concept creep. Not unlike terrorism – which once had a meaning but now just means ‘them’ – hate used to refer to the aforementioned strong emotion, but now it just means views with which the speaker or writer disagrees. It’s just part of wokeism’s Newspeak. And, not unlike 1984‘s Newspeak, it’s designed to present an issue as a res judicata. Because to think otherwise is hate speech, it follows that trans women should be allowed to complete against women shot putters. And so on.

I’m not sure which of these definitions of hate is the right one, but if the first definition is right, then clearly the second one is hate speech.

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy, Why My Colleagues Are Idiots

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3 replies

  1. I have been enjoying your vimplications for some weeks, i.e, since I signed up to receive them. This is among the best. If and when you retire from U of L, I hope you keep them coming.

    Regards Jim Maclean Toronto



  2. Nick Haslam is a Professor of Psychology, University ersatz of Melbourne,, accessed April 8, 2022.

    The following two papers by Haslam (2016) and Haslam et al (2020), respectively, are not about EDI. But they are about the expansion of meaning of harm-related concepts, some of which, e.g. trauma and prejudice, are commonly deployed in EDI discourse. I suggest reading both.

    1) In 2016, Haslam introduces “Concept Creep: Psychology’s Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology. You can download a copy of this paper via Google Scholar.

    Haslam, Nick. “Concept creep: Psychology’s expanding concepts of harm and pathology.” Psychological Inquiry 27.1 (2016): 1-17., accessed April 8, 2023.

    Abstract: Many of psychology’s concepts have undergone semantic shifts in recent years. These conceptual changes follow a consistent trend. Concepts that refer to the negative aspects of human experience and behavior have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before. This expansion takes “horizontal” and “vertical” forms: concepts extend outward to capture qualitatively new phenomena and downward to capture quantitatively less extreme phenomena. The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice are examined to illustrate these historical changes. In each case, the concept’s boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. A variety of explanations for this pattern of “concept creep” are considered and its implications are explored. I contend that the expansion primarily reflects an ever- increasing sensitivity to harm, reflecting a liberal moral agenda. Its implications are ambivalent, however. Although conceptual change is inevitable and often well motivated, concept creep runs the risk of pathologizing everyday experience and encouraging a sense of virtuous but impotent victimhood.

    2) In 2020, Haslam et al publish, “Harm Inflation: Making Sense of Concept Creep. You can download a copy of this paper via Google Scholar.

    Haslam, Nick, et al. “Harm inflation: Making sense of concept creep.” European Review of Social Psychology 31.1 (2020): 254-286., accessed April 8, 2023.

    Abstract: “Concept creep” is the gradual semantic expansion of harm-related concepts such as bullying, mental disorder, prejudice, and trauma. This review presents a synopsis of relevant theoretical advances and empirical research findings on the phenomenon. It addresses three fundamental questions. First, it clarifies the characterisation of concept creep by refining its theoretical and historical dimensions and presenting studies investigating the change in harm-related concepts using computational linguistics. Second, it examines factors that have caused concept creep, including cultural shifts in sensitivity to harm, societal changes in the prevalence of harm, and intentional meaning changes engineered for political ends. Third, the paper develops an account of the consequences of concept creep, including social conflict, political polarisation, speech restrictions, victim identities, and progressive social change. This extended analysis of concept creep helps to understand its mixed implications and sets a multi-pronged agenda for future research on the topic.


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