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Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification

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Rae Langton here draws together her work on pornography and objectification, and shows how both involve a kind of solipsism, a failure to treat women as fully human. She argues that pornography is a speech act that subordinates and silences women, and that, given certain liberal principles, women have rights against it. She explores the traditional Kantian idea that there is something wrong with treating a person as a thing, and highlights an additional epistemological dimension to objectification: it is through a kind of self-fulfilling projection of beliefs about women as subordinate that women are treated as things. These controversial essays include three new pieces written especially for the volume. They will make stimulating reading for anyone interested in feminism's dialogue with moral and political philosophy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Langton's work on objectification and sexual solipsism presents less of a challenge and more of an enticement to enter into the debate, since while this is an area that has already been explored by many other philosophers, it is central to any philosophical discussion of sexuality, and it is no simple task to discover the best analysis of objectification. Langton's work will surely stimulate further important research on this topic." —Philosophy in Review

"This collection brings together in one handy volume all of her important work in this area.... Langton's crisp, clear, and careful argumentation proves that philosophy has much to offer the socially, politically and even legally charged issues addressed here. This book will not disappoint. In sum, the book is superb.... This is feminist scholarship at its very best. It's first-rate philosophy."—Mary Kate McGowan, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The essays in Sexual Solipsism confront some of the most highly charged questions that arise in relations between the sexes. What happens when one person objectifies another? What makes it possible for some to be silenced by others, notwithstanding their freedom to speak? How can injustice, or even the adoption of an epistemic or practical standpoint, undermine the possibility of intimacy? Rae Langton's insightful answers to these questions display a heady mix of clarity, rigor, passion and wit. Rarely have I enjoyed or profited from reading a collection more."—Michael Smith, Princeton University

"Some feminists are drawn to Audre Lorde's remark that, 'The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.' The best refutation of that pessimism is Rae Langton's Sexual Solipsism. These fine essays chisel away at patriarchal thought, especially its sometimes lazy defenses of free speech and shallow notions of autonomy. But they do so by wielding the sharpest tools in the kit of modern philosophy. Langton's conclusions challenge many liberals; her methods challenge many feminists. This is femininst philosophy at its best."—Leslie Green, University of Oxford

"Rae Langton's Sexual Solipsism is a superb example of feminist philosophy. Crisp, lucid, analytically adept, passionately engaged, imaginatively resourceful, it goes to the heart of issues concerning pornography and the 'objectification' of women like nothing else in the literature, showing how good philosophy can give us resources to confront some of the world's worst evils. A must-read for all who care about social justice."—Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199247066
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/15/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Rae Langton is Professor of Philosophy at MIT. She has been affiliated with Monash University, the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, Sheffield University, and the University of Edinburgh.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts 25

2 Dangerous Confusion? Response to Ronald Dworkin 65

3 Freedom of Illocution? Response to Daniel Jacobson Rae Langton Langton, Rae Jennifer Hornsby Hornsby, Jennifer 75

4 Pornography' s Authority? Response to Leslie Green 89

5 Pornography's Divine Command? Response to Judith Butler 103

6 Whose Right? Ronald Dworkin, Women, and Pornographers 117

7 Equality and Moralism: Response to Ronald Dworkin 165

8 Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game Rae Langton Langton, Rae Caroline West West, Caroline 173

9 Duty and Desolation 197

10 Autonomy - Denial in Objectification 223

11 Projection and Objectification 241

12 Feminism in Epistemology: Exclusion and Objectification 267

13 Speaker's Freedom and Maker's Knowledge 289

14 Sexual Solipsism 311

15 Love and Solipsism 357

Bibliography 383

Index 399

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