Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy


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Mari Mikkola

The nature of these representations has a strong epistemic valence for us: we believe what we see. More importantly, these representations purport to represent the value of people as subjects, as objects , and they do it so much that they make it true. Not every author is taken by this analysis, and some deny that it can be buttressed by speech act theory in particular A view presented at several points in the book is that maker's knowledge might be complicated by diverse makers This point is layered.

On one hand, it says that the argument for maker's knowledge is undermined by the opposing views presented by feminist pornographers. On the other hand, it seems like the pornography made by feminists is still maker's knowledge, but it just comes to different conclusions for example, "non-harmful maker's knowledge" []. One of the ways in which the book attempts to go beyond speech , then, is to look at knowledge instead. Rather than focusing on the act perpetrated by the speech event, we ought to focus on the knowledge created by producing, promulgating, and consuming pornographic images.

But does the move from speech to knowledge get at the harm that porn causes?

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Does it recognize the experience that we have when we make or consume porn? Perhaps we can think about it this way: if we discover that someone close to us is enjoying porn for the first time, what do we think about it? If it bothers us, why is this so? Do we not want him to "know" things that aren't true? Is this possible? Perhaps we don't think that those representations are really knowledge-creating, accurate depictions of reality. Do we worry about immoral thoughts: the immoral thoughts that some people deserve or enjoy humiliation, pain, or subservience; some people can be used as objects; some people should be objectified along gendered or racialized lines; and that sexist and racist objectification is somehow worse than egalitarian objectification?

The authors in this collection carefully take apart each of these possibilities. The very idea of objectionable maker's knowledge is puzzling. If I claim to know something about, for instance, the value of women, then it seems like I am saying that the makers have the authority to create knowledge, that the knowledge I have arrived at is supported by beliefs perhaps with propositional structure , and that I could come to know a different conclusion if presented with different beliefs held together by arguments.

Several authors in this book upset this way of thinking about maker's knowledge. Antony doubts whether pornographers have the authority even if they do have the power to render it true that women are inferior 61 ; a similar claim is made by Katherine Jenkins My own view is that authority is needed for knowledge-ascriptions of the kind discussed here, but that only power is needed for meaning-ascriptions. Moving "beyond" speech to knowledge increases the epistemic standard.

Feminist Philosophy of Language

Several authors are skeptical that the "knowledge" rendered by pornography has been arrived at in any kind of traditional way, or in any way over which one has control. Eaton concludes the book with the claim, "The problem is that we cannot simply argue our way toward finding the right things attractive and sexy" Eaton describes Aristotelian habituation whereby we develop tastes, and these tastes shape our views of in equality as expressed in erotic representations. If I happen to find domination erotically appealing, no amount of education on equality is going to change that.

It may be possible that I can be argued into new beliefs about equality, but I cannot be argued into shedding my taste for inequality. Tastes do change, however. It may even be the case that porn does not play the dominant role in shaping inegalitarian tastes, and may even present opportunities for breaking racial and sexual stereotypes and demeaning characterizations.

Representations of inequality are everywhere, with porn perhaps mirroring rather than creating them Petra van Brabandt, ; cf. Talia Bettcher on porn's role in "reality enforcement," The allure of sexual representations may have the power if not the authority needed to undermine these unequal representations.

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Robin Zheng skeptically considers possible empowering narratives of demeaning, racialized pornographic representations, unsure that the narratives are more than mere adaptive preferences under oppressive circumstances ; cf. This book provides an introduction to philosophical treatments of pornography.

It considers relevant debates in ethics, aesthetics, feminist philosophy, political philosophy, epistemology, and social ontology thus offering a comprehensive examination of the topic. While offering an introduction, the book also puts forward substantive philosophical views on pornography. Its central aim is to challenge received views about the social world — views with which social scientists and philosophers have aimed to answer questions about the nature of social science and about those things that social sciences aim to model and explain, like social facts, objects and phenomena.

The received views that Epstein critiques deal with these issues in an overly people-centered manner. After all, even though social facts and phenomena clearly involve individual people arranged in certain ways, we must still spell out how people are involved in social facts and phenomena. There are many metaphysical questions about social properties, relations, dependence, constitution, causation, and facts that cannot be answered just be looking at individual people alone.

In order to answer questions about how one social entity depends for its existence on another, we need different metaphysical tools. Epstein thus holds that social ontological explanations would greatly benefit from making use of the theoretical toolkit that contemporary analytical metaphysics has to offer.

He focuses specifically on two metaphysical instruments: grounding and anchoring.


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I contend that Epstein is exactly right to say that contemporary metaphysics contains many theoretical instruments that can be fruitfully applied to social ontological analyses. In particular, I will address two issues: How is grounding for Epstein meant to work?

Is anchoring distinct from grounding, and a relation that we need in social ontology? Feminist Philosophy of Language.

2. Positive research programmes in philosophy of language

The relationship between feminism and metaphysics has historically been strained. Metaphysics has until recently remained dismissive of feminist insights, and many feminist philosophers have been deeply skeptical about any value that metaphysics might have when thinking about advancing gender justice.

Nevertheless, feminist philosophers have in recent years increasingly taken up explicitly metaphysical investigations. Such feminist investigations have expanded the scope of metaphysics in holding… Read more The relationship between feminism and metaphysics has historically been strained. Such feminist investigations have expanded the scope of metaphysics in holding that metaphysical tools can help advance debates on topics outside of traditional metaphysical inquiry.

Moreover, feminist philosophers typically bring new methodological insights to bear on traditional ways of doing philosophy. Feminist metaphysicians have also recently begun interrogating the methods of metaphysics and they have raised questions about what metaphysics as a discipline is in the business of doing. In discussing such methodological issues, Elizabeth Barnes has recently argued that some prevalent conceptions of metaphysics rule out feminist metaphysics from the start and render it impossible.

This is bad news for self-proclaimed feminist metaphysicians in suggesting that they are mistaken about the metaphysical status of their work. Childfree females encounter greater obstacles in obtaining voluntary sterilizations than childfree males. This paper discusses what might explain this and it proposes that female patients encounter particular credibility deficits that undermine their ability to grant informed consent. The task of the paper is to investigate whether and in what sense this holds.

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Jennifer Saul has argued that the speech acts approach to pornography, where pornography has the illocutionary force of subordinating women, is undermined by that very approach: if pornographic works are speech acts, they must be utterances in contexts; and if we take contexts seriously, it follows that only some pornographic viewings subordinate women.

Dehumanization In Thom Brooks ed. Martha Nussbaum endorses a kind of humanist feminism, which for her involves articulating the notion of human being as a normative ethical concept: once this normative concept is articulated, it can be employed to pick out those modes of treating women that are inappropriate with the view to developing corrective public policies. Contra Nussbaum, Louise Antony argues that human being cannot be defined in a normative sense.

For Antony, the only plausible human universals are biological or genet… Read more Martha Nussbaum endorses a kind of humanist feminism, which for her involves articulating the notion of human being as a normative ethical concept: once this normative concept is articulated, it can be employed to pick out those modes of treating women that are inappropriate with the view to developing corrective public policies. For Antony, the only plausible human universals are biological or genetic traits, which lack the required ethical component. Instead, feminists can single out inappropriate modes of treating women by developing a politically useful notion of dehumanization.

My strategy takes rape to be a paradigm case of dehumanizing treatment and examines what key features make it dehumanizing. These key features, then, can be used to develop a general account of dehumanization. This suggests that there is no prima facie reason for claiming that some x cannot be both pornography and art. Feminism: Pornography Pornography. Over the past few decades, feminist philosophy has become recognised as a philosophical sub-discipline in its own right.

Metaphysics typically investigates the basic structure of reality and its nature. For this task, fe… Read more Over the past few decades, feminist philosophy has become recognised as a philosophical sub-discipline in its own right. For this task, feminist insights appear simply irrelevant. Moreover, the value-neutrality of metaphysics seems prima facie incompatible with feminism's explicitly normative stance in that feminist philosophy involves advocacy: speaking on behalf of some group on political grounds.

Maria Kronfeldner offers a philosophical account of human nature that defends the concept against contemporary criticism. In particular, she takes on challenges related to social misuse of the concept that dehumanizes those regarded as lacking human nature the dehumanization challenge ; the conflict between Darwinian thinking and essentialist concepts of human nature the Darwinian challenge ; and the consensus that evolution, heredity, and ontogenetic development result from nurture and nature.

After answering each of these challenges, Kronfeldner presents a revisionist account of human nature that minimizes dehumanization and does not fall back on outdated biological ideas. Her account is post-essentialist because it eliminates the concept of an essence of being human; pluralist in that it argues that there are different things in the world that correspond to three different post-essentialist concepts of human nature; and interactive because it understands nature and nurture as interacting at the developmental, epigenetic, and evolutionary levels.

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Beyond Speech : Pornography and Analytic Feminist Philosophy

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Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy
Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy
Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy
Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy Beyond speech : pornography and analytic feminist philosophy

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