Volume 4 December 2022

Thinking About Sex: Pornography and the Intuitive Mind

Brigitte AssiAustralian National University

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

Abstract. Most feminist discourse on the negative impacts of pornography focuses on how pornography impacts the behaviours and views of men. This paper offers an account of pornography that considers its impact on female viewers. Specifically, I discuss how pornography impacts the ways female consumers intuitively think about sex and their sexual roles. I argue that feminists should distance themselves from belief–desire models of action when accounting for certain sexual interactions since belief–desire explanations can be stigmatising. I deploy Elisabeth Camp’s work on ‘characterisations’ and consequently call for investigations into how women characterise sex. I contend that pornographic material deploys certain representations which can construct patriarchal characterisations of sex in consumers. These characterisations then affect how women evaluatively, emotionally, judgmentally, and behaviourally respond to sex. I use Camp’s concept of ‘perspectivalism’ to demonstrate how people adopt pornographic perspectives which come to construct their characterisations of sex.

Bettule Brigitte Assi is an incoming Master’s student of philosophy at the Australian National University and recent graduate of the University of Melbourne, holding an Honours degree in philosophy. She researches feminism, social and cognitive construction, phenomenology, and philosophy of mind. She primarily works in the gap between philosophy of mind and feminist philosophy, investigating sex, sexual violence, and gendered structures.

Colyvan’s Dilemma: Inconsistency, Theoretic Virtues, and Scientific Practice

Johnny KennedyUniversity of Sydney

Abstract. Mark Colyvan formulates a puzzle about belief in inconsistent entities. As a scientific realist, Colyvan refers to salient instances of inconsistencies in our best science and demonstrates how an indispensability argument may justify belief in an inconsistent entity. Colyvan’s indispensability argument presents a two-horned dilemma: either scientific realists are committed to the possibility of warranted belief in inconsistent objects, or we have a reductio ad absurdum, bringing realism into a crisis. Firstly, this paper follows Graham Priest by opposing the received characterisation of inconsistent belief as a kind of epistemic hell. Secondly, I challenge the Quinean naturalism that underpins Colyvan’s indispensability argument. Then, I reformulate Colyvan’s argument with a fallible naturalism, better equipped to account for certain problem candidates for inconsistent entities. Finally, I contend that—even if indispensable—an inconsistent entity poses no problem for the scientific realist, who can have justified belief in inconsistent entities.

Johnny Kennedy is a recent graduate of, and a current student at, the University of Sydney, where he is studying for an LLB and from which he was recently awarded an Honours degree in philosophy.His research interests are in the philosophy of science, particularly the controversy between scientific realism and constructive empiricism.

Life’s a Chore: Menial Household Labour, Aristotle, and the Outsourcing Dilemma

Mahalah MullinsUniversity of Melbourne

Abstract. As technology increases the ease and convenience of outsourcing chores, a moral dilemma has emerged: it seems that to outsource menial household labour is unvirtuous, but that to perform it stifles personal flourishing. This paper engages an Aristotelian framework to engage with the moral discomfort associated with paying someone to do your dirty work, looking first at the legitimacy of the two intuitions underpinning the dilemma. Finding both intuitions to be false, I argue that menial household labour can facilitate flourishing. Thus, whilst there is nothing inherently unvirtuous about outsourcing, to outsource is to give up something of value to one’s own flourishing, contra the Aristotelian idea that one can seek transcendence only through the performance of higher-value tasks and, by implication, not through menial household labour. I conclude that we should not over-outsource chores because doing our chores can aid the pursuit of well-rounded human flourishing.

Mahalah Mullins is an incoming student of medicine at the University of Melbourne, from which she holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and politics and international studies. Her research interests include public health, bioethics, and deep ecology. Her domestic interests include deep cleaning mouldy shower grout.

Haslanger’s Method for (Un)Warranted Ideology Critique

Hamish Scott-StevensonUniversity of Melbourne

Abstract. The conditions of ideology pose a series of challenges for social critics in their attempts to develop warranted ideology critiques. Sally Haslanger’s ‘epistemology of consciousness raising’ (EoCR) seeks to delineate a method that can guide consciousness-raising (CR) groups towards achieving this epistemic feat. This paper advances what I take to be the most forceful objection to Haslanger’s EoCR, namely, that it can be appropriated by CR groups with false background assumptions to produce unwarranted ideology critiques. I propose that the fundamental issue resides in an underdeveloped step in Haslanger’s EoCR (‘testing the hypothesis’), which destabilises the legitimacy of her EoCR as a whole. Drawing on Helen Longino’s procedural notion of scientific objectivity, I offer a reconstruction of Haslanger’s underdeveloped step, which I suggest provides a successful rejoinder to the objection. However, I conclude by arguing that my reconstructed EoCR is at odds with the spirit of Haslanger’s original project, as the locus of legitimate epistemic justification for ideology critique now emerges not from the affective-discursive practices and collective activity of CR groups but from deference to the consensus of a heterogeneously constituted scientific community.

Hamish Scott-Stevenson is a recent graduate of the University of Melbourne, from which he holds an Honours degree in philosophy. His research interests include the ethical issues surrounding algorithms which influence people’s information uptake, and how these technologies can have detrimental (or potentially beneficial) impacts on mental health and democracy at large.

ISSN: 2653-3146