When Should You Be Speaking For Others?



There is a time and place for everything, but not everyone should be speaking then. When it comes down to policy decisions, everyone who is involved and will be effected should have a voice. Now, when the polices are vast, representatives of the groups of people must be present in the decision making process so that no group goes without representation.


The rituals of speaking which involve the location of speaker and listeners affect whether a claim is taken as true, well-reasoned, a compelling argument, or a significant idea. Thus, how what is said gets heard depends on who says it, and who says it will affect the style and language in which it is stated.” -Linda Alcoff

“But there is no neutral place to stand free and clear in which one’s words do not prescriptively affect or mediate the experience of others, nor is there a way to demarcate decisively a boundary between one’s location and all others. Even a complete retreat from speech is of course not neutral since it allows the continued dominance of current discourses and acts by omission to reinforce their dominance.”- Linda Alcoff


“Some of us have been taught that by right of having the dominant gender, class, race, letters after our name, or some other criterion, we are more likely to have the truth. Others have been taught the opposite and will speak haltingly, with apologies, if they speak at all.” -Linda Alcoff


“ Speaking should always carry with it an accountability and responsibility for what one says.” -Linda Alcoff


I am still curious about the idea of speaking for others and speaking about others. With the for and about being compared, “for” advocates on the behalf of a group that the speaker may be a part of, while “about” is just looking into a group that they do not belong in. My biggest question is; how do you know is you belong in that group? What are the requirements, if any, apply to these standards? For the most part, if the reasons have moral grounds and are accepted by the audience then the speaker can continue. However, who is to say that one person cannot talk about a topic? They may not have the experience need for a topic, but insight might be there. As long as no one hurts one another with damaging rhetoric, then everything should be allowed.


The idea of a political arena mattering to me as rituals of speaking means that power can never be removed from rhetoric. As a student, professor’s voices dominate or at the very least have much more power over students. Sometimes, it may feel like my voice is powerless and I cannot change anything that would be better for me. If exploitation were to continue, then the politics of language would have negative actions on my education and well-being to the point where I would be unwilling to participate.



  1. Coherentist: Coherentism is the name given to a few philosophical theories in modern epistemology, the study of knowledge. There are two distinct types of coherentism. One is the coherence theory of truth; the other, the coherence theory of justification.
  2. Classical Liberal theory: Classical liberalism is a political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. It developed in 18th-century Europe and drew on the economic writings of Adam Smith and the growing notion of social progress.
  3. Charge of Reductionism: reductionism is the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation
  4. Discursive: digressing from subject to subject
  5. Metaphysically: highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse




“The true canon-however mistily it might be revealed to us- was thought to be a canon for all time.” (123)

“Altieri argues that Herrnstein Smith is correct in claiming that the literary canon reflects nothing more or less than a society’s “interests” but wrong to conclude that the current canon therefore has no legitimate authority.” (127)

“Robinson argues that the dominant culture’s supposedly neutral aesthetic values are are framed in ways that make it difficult or impossible for disadvantaged groups to enter the cannon.” (128)

“Student’s future employers will want them to calculate market shares and perform multiple regressions, so the time they spend developing expertise in the liberal arts is mostly wasted.” (133)


I am curious about the United State’s education system when it comes down to choosing a book to teach in class. The same book cannot be used in every school district, but similar ones might be. How to the teachers determine the right book to use?


This concept matters to me, because the reading environment would never change. New voices that have created content would never be heard. The books need to reflect the changing times in society and not dwell on the past with the outdated content.


Vocab Words:

  1. Canon: a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.
  2. Foundationalism: is a view about the structure of justification or knowledge.
  3. Discourse: written or spoken communication or debate.
  4. Capital: wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing.
  5. Curriculum: the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.

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