An Analysis of Ronald Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon’s
Perspectives on Modern (Obscene) Pornography
March 7, 2005
In the coming paragraphs, I will prove that Ronald Dworkin’s criticisms and critiques of Catherine Mackinnon’s views towards pornography and society are largely unfounded and immaterial, and that government intervention via legislation is required in the protection of women’s interests. I will begin by explaining Catherine Mackinnon’s opinion and support for the Butler decision and thereafter, I will discuss Ronald Dworkin’s critique of it. After outlining their positions, I will proceed to highlight the areas of incommensurability between their arguments. My perspective of Dworkin’s comments about the harm pornography causes and the flawed pretenses upon which he reaches his conclusion will be provided, particularly his failure to recognize the true nature of the inequality as described by Mackinnon. Ultimately, I will conclude that Dworkin’s comments towards pornography and a negative approach towards state-granted freedoms is invalid and unsubstantiated.
Catherine Mackinnon, in her piece called “Only Words” articulates why government intervention is required in order to prohibit the continued subordination of women as witnessed in the American Booksellers v Hudnut and the R v Butler cases. Mackinnon makes explicit reference to the R v Butler case, wherein the Canadian courts recognized that the undue exploitation of sex and pornography inflicts harm towards women. (Appendix A). Commenting primarily on the second test identified in R v Butler , the “Degradation and Dehumanization test”, she articulates that obscene pornographic material, particularly pornographic material lacking artistic merit (i.e. Pornographic material which depicts the subordination of women), causes great harm to the female in society.
Mackinnon finds that American law fails to recognize the... [continues]
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