Irony and Sarcasm in Ethical Perspective

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Airaksinen , T 2020 , ' Irony and Sarcasm in Ethical Perspective ' , Open Philosophy , vol. 3 , no. 1 , pp. 358–368 .

Title: Irony and Sarcasm in Ethical Perspective
Author: Airaksinen, Timo
Contributor organization: Faculty Common Matters (Faculty of Social Sciences)
Date: 2020-01
Language: eng
Number of pages: 11
Belongs to series: Open Philosophy
ISSN: 2543-8875
Abstract: Irony and sarcasm are two quite different, sometimes morally dubious, linguistic tropes. We can draw a distinction between them if we identify irony as a speech act that calls what is bad good and, correspondingly, sarcasm calls good bad. This allows us to ask, which one is morally worse. My argument is based on the idea that the speaker can legitimately bypass what is good and call it bad, which is to say that she may literally mean what she says. This is not true of the opposite case: one cannot bypass what is bad and, therefore, she paradoxically does not mean what she says. In other words, irony is a morally less guilty trope. What is bad has its faults and thus it can be ironized; what is good is without blemish and thus it is difficult to know how it could be called bad. Also, irony can be freely intended, or verbal, or it can be situational in social context. I also discuss dramatic irony in Classical context. Sarcasm does not allow such complexity. Instead, we speak of cynicism and even nihilism as moral attitudes that accompany sarcasm and give it its typical force; or sarcasm may lead to cynicism and nihilism, that is, to the denial of values. Irony does not entail any corresponding attitudes or moral positions. This paper is a philosophical contribution to the ethics of communication and language.
Description: First of the series of papers on irony etc. A ralated paper "Mimetic Evil: A Conceptual and Ethical Study" accepted for publication by the journal Problemos (appears 2020). Third paper, "The Strange of Case of Dramatic Irony Analyzed," forthcoming. Series to be continued.
Euripides' Bacchae
Marquis de Sade
ethical evaluation
free irony
situational irony
611 Philosophy
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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