An Analysis of Ronald Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon’s Perspectives on Modern (Obscene) Pornography

4047 Words Nov 27th, 2009 17 Pages
Dworkin Gets Mack’d Out

An Analysis of Ronald Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon’s
Perspectives on Modern (Obscene) Pornography

March 7, 2005

Introduction 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
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Dworkin contends that few if any situations require and warrant a limitation on the “marketplace of ideas”, a fact which separates the Red, White and Blue from most other democracies.[11] Dworkin draws on the ideas of Isaiah Berlin and argues that limiting one’s free speech is a direct infringement on negative liberties that can derail society and principles under which it stands. Berlin theorized on the powerful impact of ideas on social life and believed in their free distribution in order to promote a healthy society.[12] Dworkin uses the issue of obscene pornographic material as a forum to present his conception of the way a free and democratic society ought to encourage free speech. Dworkin contends that negative liberty, when understood in the correct context and framework will lead to the conclusion of the permissibility of pornographic material. The only grounds for the prohibition of certain speech, is speech which is considered “directly dangerous”, not because it presents a message which is disliked by the majority.[13] In combating the view contended by many who favour the Indianapolis Ordinates, Dworkin believes it is necessary to

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