A Partial Defense of Illocutionary Silencing

Hypatia 26 (1):132 - 149 (2011)
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Catharine MacKinnon has pioneered a new brand of anti-pornography argument. In particular, MacKinnon claims that pornography silences women in a way that violates their right to free speech. In what follows, we focus on a certain account of silencing put forward by Jennifer Hornsby and Rae Langton, and we defend that account against two important objections. The first objection contends that this account makes a crucial but false assumption about the necessary role of hearer recognition in successful speech acts. In response, we argue that, as silencing primarily concerns communication, Hornsby and Langton are perfectly correct to treat hearer recognition as they do. The second objection contends that their particular account of silencing has the unacceptable result of undermining the responsibility of rapists. We here argue that no such result follows from their account



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Mary Kate McGowan
Wellesley College

References found in this work

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.John Rogers Searle - 1969 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.William P. Alston - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (79):172-179.
Speech acts and unspeakable acts.Rae Langton - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (4):293-330.

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