NANCY BAUER How to Do Things With Pornography

Nancy Bauer

We live in a world awash with pornography, in the face of which anti-porn feminist philosophizing has not had much impact. In How to Do Things With Pornography (Harvard University Press, 2015), Nancy Bauer takes academic philosophy to task for being irrelevant and argues that philosophers should emulate Socrates in giving people reasons to reflect on their settled views. Bauer, who is a professor of philosophy and dean of academic affairs for arts and sciences at Tufts University, considers the sexual objectification of women in contemporary society from several overlapping angles. She discusses the sense of empowerment that young women feel in today’s ‘hookup culture’ and defends a radical new reading of J.L. Austin’s work on language that is at odds with the standard interpretation behind prominent feminist critiques of pornography. She also considers how white male dominance in academic philosophy has contributed to its lack of effectiveness, while applauding recent efforts by some to increase its diversity and its engagement with the public.