Testimonial Injustice, Pornography, and Silencing

Analytic Philosophy 60 (4):405-417 (2019)
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Abstract

In this paper, I develop two criticisms of Miranda Fricker’s attempt to offer an interpretation of MacKinnon’s claim that pornography silences women that conceives of the silencing in question as an extreme form of testimonial injustice. The intended contrast is with the speech act theoretical model of silencing familiar from Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby, who appeal to MacKinnon’s claim to argue against the standard liberal line on pornography, which takes a permissive stance to be demanded by a right to freedom of speech. Fricker’s alternative suggestion is that women are the victims of ‘an especially acute form of testimonial injustice’, due to the kind of dehumanizing bad sexual ideology peddled in much pornography. Fricker suggests that both notions of silencing are coherent possibilities, but that ‘the epistemic model describes the more empirically likely possibility, simply because it requires less erosion of women’s human status before the silencing effect kicks in’. I question the truth of this advertised advantage of Fricker’s epistemic account of silencing, but also its relevance to philosophical debates about pornography and silencing. Second, I raise a concern about theorizing about sexual refusal as a kind of testimony, as Fricker does.

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Aidan McGlynn
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
White Ignorance.Charles W. Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.

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