Teaching Philosophy 35 (2):217-221 (2012)
AbstractThe 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 conversation about what we should find objectionable in certain types of sexual representations and interactions by helping us to talk about sex in a way that does not start from the presupposition that physical expressions of sexuality are inherently debasing. I describe the thesis of the book, how I used it in my Philosophy and Women course, and some criticisms that I have and that arose from class discussion.
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