Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Art and PornographyPhilosophical Essays$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Hans Maes and Jerrold Levinson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609581.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

On the Ethical Distinction between Art and Pornography

On the Ethical Distinction between Art and Pornography

(p.229) 11 On the Ethical Distinction between Art and Pornography
Art and Pornography

Brandon Cooke

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a detailed critical examination of some of the most powerful moral objections against pornography. One such objection is built on the idea that one can acquire true beliefs from fiction, but also false beliefs, and that the latter invariably happens to consumers of pornography. A different moral objection states that women as a group are exploited by heterosexual pornography. Finally, there is the variety of causal arguments put forward by anti-porn critics who believe that pornography causes harm or induces unethical behaviour. Against the latter this chapter argues that there still is no adequate evidence for any such causal link and that the relevant causal mechanism has yet to be discovered. It also remains sceptical about the other moral objections against pornography, mainly because they fail to square with the fact that most pornography is offered as material for non-alethic imagining and that imaginings of this sort are not morally equivalent to actions or to genuine attitudes. It is this connection with imagining, this chapter argues, that makes pornography on a par, ethically, with art. To be sure, works of art are sometimes an appropriate object of ethical criticism. But establishing that an artwork is ethically flawed requires much more than showing that it has a certain content. According to this chapter, the same is true of much pornography.

Keywords:   Exploitation, Langton, harm, moral criticism, fiction

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .