Volume 2, Issue 2 out now!

Volume 2, Issue 1 August 2020


Pornography and Other Recorded Speech Acts

Jasper FriedrichUniversity of Aberdeen

Winner of Best Paper

Abstract. Rae Langton has argued, using Speech Act Theory, that pornography subordinates women in virtue of its illocutionary force and should therefore not be protected by freedom of speech. Jennifer Saul, however, has objected that pornographic works in themselves do not have illocutionary force – only individual viewings or showings of pornography can be conceptualised as speech acts. In this paper, I consider how Saul’s argument generalises to all recorded content (writing, films, images, etc.) and construct an account of recorded speech acts that saves Langton’s arguments from Saul’s criticism. I show that content such as films, magazines, etc. does have illocutionary force over and above any individual act of consuming this content. Further, I argue that any uptake that is reasonably secured in any intended context of consumption is relevant to determining the illocutionary force of recorded speech acts. Beyond lending credence to Langton’s arguments, this account allows us to hold producers of discriminatory content to account for what they do.

Jasper has just finished his undergraduate studies with joint honours in International Relations and Linguistics at the University of Aberdeen. He is interested in philosophy of language, social and political theory and above all the intersection between these fields.


Sexual Desire and Sexual Perversion

Kristina DukoskiUniversity of Toronto

Winner of Best Paper (Member of an Underrepresented Group in Philosophy)

Abstract. When one feels sexual desire, they often feel it towards some object. The particular object that it is felt towards may vary, but the formal object remains the same and serves to unify each token of the emotion. In this paper, I establish that the formal object of sexual desire is something that has the property of being a ‘pleasant sexual partner’, a role fulfilled by an agent who would reciprocate the relevant attitudes, allowing for the exchange of sexual energy that characterises sexual intimacy upon awareness of like intentions being directed towards it. As such, a correct sexual desire is one in which the subject is justified in apprehending the object of their desire as the formal object, whereas an incorrect sexual desire is one in which the subject lacks such justification. One might then think that incorrect sexual desire characterises sexual perversity. However, an incorrect sexual desire does not carry the same morally negative weight as the concept of perversion, and thus is not enough to characterise perversion. Sexual perversity begins with an unjustified apprehension of something as the formal object and reaches its final morally reprehensible state in conjunction with conditions that outline the subject’s lack of concern towards their object’s reciprocal status as an agential being.

Kristina is pursuing her Master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include topics in the philosophy of sex and epistemology.


Reconceptualising Confucian Freedom: The Role of Xin in Mediation

Ang Wei XiangNanyang Technological University

Abstract. In Confucian scholar Li Chenyang’s “The Confucian Conception of Freedom”, he conceptualised a theory of freedom that relates an individual’s decision-making and self-cultivation processes with the processes of socialisation the individual goes through. His motivation behind this article is to purport a political philosophy that allows individuals in a particular society to realise the good. In his article, he argued that Confucian freedom is a form of actualised freedom whereby individuals ‘choose the good’. In this essay, I will discuss several shortcomings of such a conception and attempt to shift the focus from ‘choosing the good’ to ‘choosing’ itself. I will point out that conceptualising actualised freedom as ‘choosing the good’ will have counterintuitive implications. Subsequently, I will argue that actualised freedom does not merely consist of an individual’s choosing of the good but also his consciousness of his choosing. Such a consciousness, as I will argue, cannot be acquired without self-cultivation and meaningful socialisation. I draw passages from Mengzi and Xunzi to formulate a supplementary account to Li’s conception of freedom. In doing so, I preserve the role of socialisation and cultivation in conceptualising Confucian freedom.

Wei Xiang is a third-year philosophy undergraduate studying at Nanyang Technological University. His interests include existentialist philosophy, particularly its ethical aspects, and moral philosophy.