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Subordination and Objectification

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This essay discusses Rae Langton’s recent collection of essays, Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification. After introducing some of the major themes of the collection, I raise questions about two of the central concepts in the book. The first question has to do with Langton’s notion of subordination. I ask why she takes pornography to be a subordinating speech act, rather than a subordinating practice, and argue that the latter view has several advantages. The remaining questions have to do with Langton’s notion of objectification. Looking first at the moral dimension of objectification, I raise some concerns about Langton’s strategy for distinguishing instances of objectification from non-instances. Then, turning to Langton’s discussion of the epistemic dimension of objectification, I ask under what circumstances certain belief-forming mechanisms, such as desire-driven projection, are objectifying, on her view.

Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan,


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