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Title: Dignity in feminist political theory : rape, prostitution, and pornography
Author: Chaparro Martinez, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 5503
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation attempts to make advances in two debates in political theory: the first debate is about the nature of dignity and its demands and the second debate is about how feminists should address key issues of concern to them that involve sexuality. I show that the widespread use of the term "dignity" is accompanied by several objections regarding its nature and demands. Objections to dignity highlight its context-dependent, subjective, empty, and indeterminate nature. I reply to these objections and argue that dignity is a useful concept. My proposal is that in order to give dignity a more determinate nature we should focus on what dignity demands. More specifically, I suggest that dignity demands expressive affirmation, or at least the absence of expressive disaffirmation. By expressive affirmation I mean acts or expressions, verbal or non-verbal, which affirm the equal value of human beings. Bearing this understanding of dignity in mind I consider the second debate addressed in the dissertation regarding how feminists should respond to certain issues of central concern to them. These issues are rape, prostitution, arid pornography. I argue that what is wrong with rape and what might be wrong with some kinds of prostitution and pornography can be better understood in light of the idea that dignity demands expressive affirmation. The strategy I follow in order to support this claim relies significantly on my discussion of rape. I use the case of rape as a basis for insights about the status of prostitution and pornography because rape is a case in which our moral convictions are most certain. I argue that rape helps us to see how the demand for expressive affirmation is a demand to respect a person's sexual integrity. This provides a point of departure for justifying further conclusions about some instances of prostitution and · pornography where our convictions about the demands of dignity are initially less certain. In particular, I argue that · prostitution and some forms of pornography are morally problematic and may require legal regulation even under conditions of background equality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available