About this topic
Summary Feminist approaches to pornography are diverse, complex and contested, crossing disciplines from cultural studies to law; women's studies to applied social science. This range continues within feminist philosophical perspectives, where pornography is examined as practice, speech and product across phenomenology, ethics, aesthetics, moral and political philosophy.
Key works Langton 2009 Mason-Grant 2004
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  1. Andrew Aberdein (2010). Strange Bedfellows: The Interpenetration of Philosophy and Pornography. In Dave Monroe (ed.), Porn: How to Think with Kink. Wiley-Blackwell 22-34.
    This paper explores some surprising historical connections between philosophy and pornography (including pornography written by or about philosophers, and works that are both philosophical and pornographic). Examples discussed include Diderot's Les Bijoux Indiscrets, Argens's Therésè Philosophe, Aretino's Ragionamenti, Andeli's Lai d'Aristote, and the Gor novels of John Norman. It observes that these works frequently dramatize a tension between reason and emotion, and argues that their existence poses a problem for philosophical arguments against pornography.
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  2. Alison Adam (2002). Cyberstalking and Internet Pornography: Gender and the Gaze. [REVIEW] Ethics and Information Technology 4 (2):133-142.
    This paper is based on the premise that the analysis of some cyberethics problems would benefit from a feminist treatment. It is argued that both cyberstalking and Internet child pornography are two such areas which have a `gendered' aspect which has rarely been explored in the literature. Against a wide ranging feminist literature of potential relevance, the paper explores a number of cases through a focused approach which weaves together feminist concepts of privacy and the gaze.
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  3. Amy Allen (2009). Feminism and the Subject of Politics Amy Allen. In Boudewijn Paul de Bruin & Christopher F. Zurn (eds.), New Waves in Political Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan 1.
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  4. Amy Allen (2001). Pornography and Power. Journal of Social Philosophy 32 (4):512–531.
    When it was at its height, the feminist pornography debate tended to generate more heat than light. Only now that there has been a cease fire in the sex war does it seem possible to reflect on the debate in a more productive way and to address some of the questions that were left unresolved by it. In this paper, I shall argue that one of the major unresolved questions is that of how feminists should conceptualize power. The antipornography feminists (...)
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  5. Bruno Ambroise (2003). Quand pornographier, c'est insulter : théorie des actes de parole, pornographie et féminisme. Cités 15 (3):79.
    Ce n’est peut-être pas un hasard si certaines des féministes les plus radicales ont croisé dans leur combat contre la phallocratie régnant dans le domaine de la représentation sexuelle une des philosophies les plus radicales en ce qui concerne la représentation et notamment celle portée par le langage. Et ainsi la coïncidence qui fait se rencontrer les féministes antipornographie qui..
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  6. Alison Assiter (1989). Pornography, Feminism and the Individual. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  7. David F. Austin (1999). (Sexual) Quotation Without (Sexual) Harassment?, Pornography in the College Classroom. In Vern Bullough & James Elias (eds.), Porn 101: Proceedings of the 1998 World Pornography Conference. Prometheus Books
  8. Christopher Bartel (2014). Art and Pornography. British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (4):510-512.
  9. Christopher Bartel (2010). The 'Fine Art' of Pornography? In Dave Monroe (ed.), Porn: Philosophy for Everyone. Wiley-Blackwell 153--65.
    Can pornographic depictions have artistic value? Much pornography closely resembles art, at least in many superficial respects. Films, photographs, paintings—all of these can have artistic value. Of course, films, photographs and paintings can also be pornographic. If some photographs have artistic value, and some photographs are pornographic, can pornographic photographs have artistic value too? I argue that pornography may only possess artistic value despite, not by virtue of, its pornographic content.
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  10. Nancy Bauer (2007). Pornutopia. N+1 5:63-73.
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  11. Nancy Bauer (2006). How to Do Things With Pornography. In Sanford Shieh & Alice Crary (eds.), Reading Cavell.
  12. Claudia Bianchi (2008). Indexicals, Speech Acts and Pornography. Analysis 68 (300):310-316.
    In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...)
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  13. Shoshana Brassfield (2012). Overcoming Objectification: A Carnal Ethics. [REVIEW] Teaching Philosophy 35 (2):217-221.
    The central argument of Ann Cahill’s Overcoming Objectification is that the concept of sexual objectification should be replaced by Cahill’s concept of derivatization in order to better capture the wrongness of degrading images and practices without depending on an objectionably narrow and disembodied conception of self. To derivatize someone is not to treat her as a non-person, but rather to treat her as a derivative person, reducing her to an aspect of another’s being. Although not perfect, Cahill’s approach advances the (...)
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  14. Bob Brecher, Pornography: Men Possessing Women. A Reassessment.
    For a few years in the 1980s, Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women appeared to have changed the intellectual landscape – as well as some people’s lives. Pornography, she argued, not only constitutes violence against women; it constitutes also the main conduit for such violence, of which rape is at once the prime example and the central image. In short, it is patriarchy’s most powerful weapon. Given that, feminists’ single most important task is to deal with pornography. By the early (...)
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  15. Susan J. Brison (2006). Contentious Freedom: Sex Work and Social Construction. Hypatia 21 (4):192-200.
    : In this article, Brison extends the analysis of freedom developed in Nancy J Hirschmann's book, The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom, to an area of controversy among feminist theorists: that of sex work, including prostitution and participation in the production of pornography. This topic raises some of the same issues concerning choice and consent as the three topics Hirschmann discusses in her book—domestic violence, the current welfare system in the United States, and Islamic veiling—but it (...)
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  16. Harry Brod (1988). Pornography and the Alienation of Male Sexuality. Social Theory and Practice 14 (3):265-284.
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  17. Vern Bullough & James Elias (eds.) (1999). Porn 101: Proceedings of the 1998 World Pornography Conference. Prometheus Books.
  18. E. C. (1997). The Phenomenology of Pornography. Law and Philosophy 16 (2):177-199.
    Most people are familiar with Justice Stewart's now classic statement that while he cannot describe pornography, he certainly knows it when he sees it. We instantly identify with Justice Stewart. Pornography is not difficult to recognize, but it does elude description. This is because traditional attempts at description are attempts that seek to explain at either an abstract or empirical level rather than at the level that accounts for experience in its totality. Justice Stewart's lament represents the need to understand (...)
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  19. Claudia F. Card (ed.) (1999). Feminist Ethics and Politics. University Press of Kansas.
  20. Avedon Carol & Lee Kennedy (1994). Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes Pornography and Censorship.
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  21. Alisa L. Carse (1999). Pornography's Many Meanings: A Reply to C. M. Concepcion. Hypatia 14 (1):101-111.
    : C.M. Concepcion's review of "Pornography: An Uncivil Liberty?" (Carse 1995) fundamentally misconstrues the position defended in that article. This paper examines possible sources of this misconstrual, focusing critical attention on the narrowly crafted, morally loaded notion of "pornography" that figures centrally in the original argument under review. Pornography is not a category of speech that can be characterized as having one crucial meaning or message, nor is the message of pornography easily identifiable in instances of pornographic speech. This raises (...)
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  22. Alisa L. Carse (1999). Pornography's Many Meanings: A Reply to C. M. Concepcion. Hypatia 14 (1):101-111.
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  23. Alisa L. Carse (1999). Pornography's Many Meanings: A Reply to C.M. Concepcion. Hypatia 14 (1):101-111.
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  24. Alisa L. Carse (1995). Pornography: An Uncivil Liberty? Hypatia 10 (1):155 - 182.
    Pornographic speech harms women by playing a key role in sustaining the social conditions through which women's liberty and equality are undercut. Though there is a principled moral and constitutional basis for pursuing a legal strategy in fighting pornography, we should not overestimate the effectiveness of the law or underestimate its potential dangers. The struggle against pornography must be waged through education, expressive exploration, and protest, not through the law.
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  25. Lynn S. Chancer (1998). Reconcilable Differences Confronting Beauty, Pornography, and the Future of Feminism. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
  26. Ferrel M. Christensen (1990). Cultural and Ideological Bias in Pornography Research. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 20 (3):351-375.
  27. Consuelo M. Concepcion (1999). On Pornography, Representation and Sexual Agency. Hypatia 14 (1):97-100.
    : I argue that Alisa Carse's call for antipornography legislation sets a potentially dangerous legal move that could threaten to shut off the dialogue women need to redefine the meanings and terms of our sexualities. I also argue that the terms of legitimacy need to be re-examined outside a legal system that systematically fails to protect the rights of sexual minorities.
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  28. Drucilla Cornell (2000). Feminism and Pornography. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
  29. Brenda Cossman (1997). Bad Attitude/s on Trial Pornography, Feminism, and the Butler Decision. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  30. Nick Cowen (forthcoming). Millian Liberalism and Extreme Pornography. American Journal of Political Science.
    How sexuality should be regulated in a liberal political community is an important, controversial theoretical and empirical question—as shown by the recent criminalization of possession of some adult pornography in the United Kingdom. Supporters of criminalization argue that Mill, often considered a staunch opponent of censorship, would support prohibition due to his feminist commitments. I argue that this account underestimates the strengths of the Millian account of private conduct and free expression, and the consistency of Millian anticensorship with feminist values. (...)
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  31. Alex Davies (2014). How to Silence Content with Porn, Context and Loaded Questions. European Journal of Philosophy 24 (1).
    Catharine MacKinnon claimed that pornography silence's women's speech where this speech is protected by free speech legislation. MacKinnon's claim was attacked as confused because, so it seemed, pornography is not the kind of thing that can silence speech. Using ideas drawn from John Austin's account of speech acts, Rae Langton defended MacKinnon's claim against this attack by showing how speech can, in principle, be silenced by pornography. However, Langton's defence requires us to deviate from a widely held understanding of what (...)
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  32. Alex Davies (2014). How to Silence Content with Porn, Context and Loaded Questions. European Journal of Philosophy 23 (4).
    Catharine MacKinnon claimed that pornography silence's women's speech where this speech is protected by free speech legislation. MacKinnon's claim was attacked as confused because, so it seemed, pornography is not the kind of thing that can silence speech. Using ideas drawn from John Austin's account of speech acts, Rae Langton defended MacKinnon's claim against this attack by showing how speech can, in principle, be silenced by pornography. However, Langton's defence requires us to deviate from a widely held understanding of what (...)
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  33. M. C. Dillon (1998). Sex Objects and Sexual Objectification: Erotic Versus Pornographic Depiction. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 29 (1):92-115.
    If desire is conceived as investment in a sex object, why is sexual objectification regarded as intrinsically degrading? The distinction between the "objectification " of pornographic depiction and the "beauty " of erotic depiction can be understood as a difference in degree between the uni-dimensional enframing of one treatment and the multidimensional enframing of the other. The phenomenon of context includes the anticipations of the participating witnesses: the object of pornographic or erotic depiction cannot be isolated from the posture, situation, (...)
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  34. Matt L. Drabek, Pornographic Subordination, Power, and Feminist Alternatives.
    How does pornography subordinate on the basis of gender? I provide part of an answer in this paper by framing subordination as something that works through everyday classification. Under certain material and social conditions, pornography classifies people through labeling them in ways that connect to structures of oppression. I hope to show two things. First, pornographic content is not the major driving force behind pornography’s subordination of women. Second, pornography, when repurposed in new ways, carries the potential to counter the (...)
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  35. Andrea Dworkin (1994). Why Pornography Matters to Feminists. In Alison M. Jaggar (ed.), Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics. Westview Press 152.
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  36. Andrea Dworkin (1974). Woman Hating. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
  37. Susan Dwyer, Pornography.
    Pornography has attracted a good deal of academic and political attention, primarily from feminists of various persuasions, moral philosophers, and legal scholars. Surprisingly less work has been forthcoming from film theorists, given how much pornography has been produced on video and DVD and is now available through live streaming video over the Internet. Indeed, it is not until 1989, with the publication of Linda Williams’ groundbreaking Hard Core, that pornography is distinguished, in terms of its content, intent, and governing conventions, (...)
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  38. Susan Dwyer (2011). Review of Abigail Levin, The Cost of Free Speech: Pornography, Hate Speech, and Their Challenge to Liberalism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011 (2).
  39. Robert A. Dyal (1976). Is Pornography Good For You? Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):95-118.
  40. David Dyzenhaus (1992). John Stuart Mill and the Harm of Pornography. Ethics 102 (3):534-551.
  41. Susan Easton (1995). Taking Women's Rights Seriously: Integrity and the “Right” to Consume Pornography. Res Publica 1 (2):183-198.
  42. A. W. Eaton (2007). A Sensible Antiporn Feminism. Ethics 117 (4):674-715.
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  43. Joel Feinberg (2009). The Feminist Case Against Pornography. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press
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  44. Lorna Finlayson (2014). How to Screw Things with Words. Hypatia 29 (4):774-789.
    Since its influential rendering by Rae Langton in her 1993 paper, “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts,” the “silencing argument” against pornography has become the subject of a lively debate that continues to this day. My intention in this paper is not to join in the existing debate, but to give a critical overview of it. In its current form, I suggest, it is going nowhere . Yet the silencing argument, I believe, nevertheless contains an indispensable insight—and more radical potential than (...)
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  45. Danny Frederick, The Philosophical Case For Pornography.
  46. Ann Garry (2002). Sex, Lies and Pornography. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), Ethics in Practice. Blackwell
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  47. Ann Garry (1978). Pornography and Respect for Women. Social Theory and Practice 4 (spring):395-421.
  48. Pamela Church Gibson & Roma Gibson (1995). Dirty Looks: Women, Pornography, Power. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 53 (4):447-448.
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  49. P. Gilbert (2010). Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification * by Rae Langton. Analysis 70 (3):597-599.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  50. Paul W. Goldschmidt (1999). Pornography and Democratization Legislating Obscenity in Post-Communist Russia. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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