A Partial Defense of Illocutionary Silencing
Article first published online: 11 MAY 2010
© by Hypatia, Inc.
Volume 26, Issue 1, pages 132–149, Winter 2011
How to Cite
McGOWAN, M. K., ADELMAN, A., HELMERS, S. and STOLZENBERG, J. (2011), A Partial Defense of Illocutionary Silencing. Hypatia, 26: 132–149. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2010.01122.x
- Issue published online: 1 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 11 MAY 2010
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.