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Who's Afraid of Andrea Dworkin? Feminism and the Analytic Philosophy of Sex?

Monday 28 November 2016 (15:15-17:00)

Philosophy Society Seminar Series 2016/17

  • Speaker: Katharine Jenkins (Nottingham)

All meetings take place 15.15-17:00 in ERI 149. All welcome!


The nature of sexual desire has been a topic of profound interest to feminist theorists for some time, and certainly in the latter half of the 20th century. Yet this body of work is routinely overlooked by those working on this topic within the analytic tradition, resulting in two quite separate literatures. Focussing on the work of feminist theorist Andrea Dworkin – a distinctive and polarizing figure – I argue that much is lost by this partitioning. Dworkin’s work interrogates the connections between sexuality, gender, and dominance, aspects of sexual desire that are under-explored in the analytic philosophy of sex. I first show how an analytic approach can help us get the most out of Dworkin’s intricate prose by clarifying ambiguous passages and disentangling distinct claims. Then, using Igor Primoratz’s account of sex as an example, I argue that analytic work on sexual desire would benefit greatly from Dworkin’s valuable insights about the social and political nature of sexual desire. A notable exception to the tendency to overlook Dworkin’s work is Seiriol Morgan; however, I argue that even Morgan does not account for the full implications of Dworkin’s arguments.

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