Just Because You're Offended Doesn't Mean You're In The Right: A Perspective on Language, Comedy, and Ethics

James H. Garrett '13, Gettysburg College

Philosophy senior thesis


Some humor is offensive, but does this convey a moral constraint on what comedians can include in their jokes? Using stand up bits and reflections on comedy from George Carlin, Louis C.K., and Doug Stanhope, various philosophies of humor, and the linguistic philosophy of H.P. Grice, I explore the given question and attempt to settle the disputes about when it is prudent to be offended, in what ways comedians should be allowed to offend, and whether or not words can hurt just as much as sticks and stones.