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Sexual SolipsismPhilosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification$
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Rae Langton

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247066.001.0001

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Dangerous Confusion? Response to Ronald Dworkin

Dangerous Confusion? Response to Ronald Dworkin

Chapter:
(p.65) 2 Dangerous Confusion? Response to Ronald Dworkin
Source:
Sexual Solipsism
Author(s):

Rae Langton (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247066.003.0003

Dworkin regards as a ‘dangerous confusion’ the idea that pornography silences women. Pornography may teach some to ‘misunderstand’ what women say, fail to ‘respect’ them when they say ‘no’ to sex. But this does not infringe a negative liberty but merely a positive one, in Berlin's terms. Such a woman is like a flat-earther, who does not achieve respect for his views. Dworkin's argument fails, first, by his own lights: he needs to cast the argument in terms of equality, not negative liberty. Second, he is wrong about the silencing: it is not perlocutionary failure to achieve respect of one's hearers, but illocutionary failure to perform speech acts of refusal. His comparison with the flat-earther is morally, and conceptually, confused.

Keywords:   silence, pornography, negative liberty, positive liberty, Berlin, Dworkin, perlocutionary, illocutionary

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