Philosophy Colloquium
Jerrold Levinson
University of Maryland
Immoral Jokes

This paper concerns the ethics of humor. More specifically, it is concerned with a certain category of jokes that can be labeled immoral jokes. I claim that such jokes exist, and that many of them are funny despite being immoral; that is to say, their immorality does not wholly undermine their humorousness, and may even somehow contribute to it. So a first task of the paper is to say what a joke’s being funny or humorous roughly amounts to. A second and more important task is to say what it is for a joke to be immoral, or what may come to the same thing, pernicious . But a third task will be to decide what attitude or behavior is appropriate to such jokes in light of their immorality, and whether their total proscription is justified, or even humanly possible.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
4:00pm

Skinner 1115