From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Rae Helen Langton, FBA (born 14 February 1961) is an Australian and British professor of philosophy. She is currently the Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She has published widely on Immanuel Kant's philosophy, moral philosophy, political philosophy, metaphysics, and feminist philosophy. She is also well known for her work on pornography and objectification. While studying social philosophy at Princeton she became interested in the philosophical debates on free speech and pornography. In 1993 she published her paper "Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts".
In 1990, in response to Ronald Dworkin's Is There a Right to Pornography?, Langton published Whose right? Ronald Dworkin, Women, and Pornographers. 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. In 1993 she published her paper Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts.
According to Mary Kate McGowan, "Rather than focus on the harms allegedly caused, Langton explores the hypothesis that pornography actually constitutes harm."
Her first book, Kantian Humility: Our Ignorance of Things in Themselves, is based on her thesis. According to one reviewer, "In this perspective there is no idealism in Kant, rather what Langton calls epistemic humility." Another reviewer described the book as "one of the most original and thought-provoking books on Kant to have appeared for quite some time."
Many of the papers she published from 1990-99 were collected in her 2009 book, Sexual Solipsism: Philosophical Essays on Pornography and Objectification, along with her responses to some of her critics. Regarding this book, Wellesley College philosophy professor Mary Kate McGowan wrote in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews that "...Langton's crisp, clear, and careful argumentation proves that philosophy has much to offer the socially, politically and even legally charged issues addressed here... This is feminist scholarship at its very best. It's first-rate philosophy." Langton has written more than fifty articles about subjects ranging from feminist approaches to pornography, to animal ethics, to hate speech.