Whose right? Ronald Dworkin, Women, and Pornographers  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Whose right? Ronald Dworkin, Women, and Pornographers (1990) is an essay by Rae Langton. It is a response to "Do We Have a Right to Pornography?" (1981) by Ronald Dworkin. In it she argued that the positions Dworkin takes on segregation and affirmative action are not consistent with his position in defence of pornography. The paper was voted one of the ten best articles in philosophy that year.


Amidst the heated and often acrimonious controversies about pornographyand government policy, the answer to one question at least has always seemed obvious. Should liberal theorists be in favor of permitting porno-graphy? As champions of our basic liberties, and as champions especially of free speech, liberals have found it easy to answer this question with a simple 'yes'. They are of course accustomed to viewing their opponents in this debate as Conservatives, who want pornography prohibited because it is immoral; liberals view moralistic motives of this kind with deep (and doubtless justified) suspicion. But there are other voices in the debate, too,voices arguing that we have reason to be concerned about pornography,not because it is morally suspect, but because we care about equality and the rights of women. This aspect of the debate between liberals and their opponents can begin to look like an argument about liberty and equality-freedom of speech versus women's rights-and so, apparently, it has been regarded by the courts.' Ronald Dworkin is one liberal theorist who has defended a right to pornography, addressing the topic in "Do We Have a Right to Pornography?".

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