Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 81-101

First online:

On morality of speech: Cavell’s critique of Derrida

  • Espen DahlAffiliated withThe Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This article tries to bring out the implication of Cavell’s critical comments on Derrida, clustered around Cavell’s charge that deconstruction entails a flight from the ordinary. Cavell’s and Derrida’s different readings of Austin’s ordinary language philosophy provide a common ground for elaborating their respective positions. Their writings are at once the closest but also the most divergent when addressing the moral implication of speech, or more precisely, when addressing their understanding of responsibility and voice. Employing Derrida’s so-called ‘double reading’ as a leitmotif will not only shed light on the moral dimension of deconstruction, but also bring the central target of Cavell’s critique into the open.


Cavell Derrida Morality Deconstruction Ordinary language philosophy