Michael Randall Barnes

Michael Randall Barnes
The University of Western Ontario | UWO · Rotman Institue of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy


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I received my PhD from Georgetown University in 2019, writing my dissertation on how speech maintains oppression. My current research focus is on the spread and harm of hate online, as well as other issues in the ethics of technology, including the ethics of AI). In 2021 I became a postdoc at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University. In Fall 2022 I will take up a postdoc at the Australian National University


Publications (8)
A lot of subordinating speech has moved online, which raises several questions for social philosophers of language. Can current accounts of oppressive speech adequately capture digital hate? How does the anonymity of online harassers contribute to the force of their speech? This paper examines online abuse and argues that standard accounts of licen...
This paper has 3 main goals: (1) to clarify the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-along with algorithms more broadly-in online radicalization that results in 'real world violence'; (2) to argue that technological solutions (like better AI) are inadequate proposals for this problem given both technical and social reasons; and (3) to demonstrate t...
Drawing on work from Marina Sbisà's "Ideology and the Persuasive Use of Presupposition," Rae Langton has developed a powerful account of the subtle mechanisms through which hate speech and propaganda spread. However, this model has a serious limitation: it focuses too strongly on individual speech acts isolated from their wider context, rendering i...
This chapter examines what protest is from a pragmatic point of view and how it relates to propaganda—specifically what Jason Stanley calls “positive propaganda.” It analyzes the phrase “Black lives matter,” taking it to be a political speech act that offers a unique route to understanding the pragmatics of protest. From this, it considers the mora...
Full-text available
Sweatshop labour is sometimes defended from critics by arguments that stress the voluntariness of the worker’s choice, and the fact that sweatshops provide a source of income where no other similar source exists. The idea is if it is exploitation—as their opponents charge—it is mutually beneficial and consensual exploitation. This defence appeals t...


Project (1)
To study the harmful effects of online hate speech and evaluate the limits of algorithmic content moderation.