Linguistic authority and convention in a speech act analysis of pornography

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (3):435 – 456 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Recently, several philosophers have recast feminist arguments against pornography in terms of Speech Act Theory. In particular, they have considered the ways in which the illocutionary force of pornographic speech serves to set the conventions of sexual discourse while simultaneously silencing the speech of women, especially during unwanted sexual encounters. Yet, this raises serious questions as to how pornographers could (i) be authorities in the language game of sex, and (ii) set the conventions for sexual discourse - questions which these speech act-theoretic arguments against pornography have thus far failed to adequately answer. I fill in this gap of the argumentation by demonstrating that there are fairly weak standards for who counts as an authority or convention-setter in sexual discourse. With this analysis of the underpinnings of a speech act analysis of pornography in mind, I discuss a range of possible objections. I conclude that (i) the endorsement of censorship by a speech act analysis of pornography competes with its commitment to the conventionality of speech acts, and, more damningly, that (ii), recasting anti-pornography arguments in terms of linguistic conventions risks an unwitting defence of a rapist's lack of mens rea - an intolerable result; and yet resisting this conclusion requires that one back away from the original claim to women's voices being 'silenced'.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
587 (#26,103)

6 months
199 (#10,325)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nellie Wieland
California State University, Long Beach

Citations of this work

Pornography and accommodation.Richard Kimberly Heck - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (8):830-860.
Illocutionary Frustration.Samia Hesni - 2018 - Mind 127 (508):947-976.
Epistemic Injustice in Social Cognition.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):294-308.
On silencing, rape, and responsibility.Ishani Maitra & Mary Kate McGowan - 2010 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):167 – 172.

View all 23 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Lewis - 1969 - Synthese 26 (1):153-157.
Meaning.Stephen R. Schiffer - 1972 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.
Speech acts and unspeakable acts.Rae Langton - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (4):293-330.

View all 20 references / Add more references