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Pornography and imagining about oneself

posted on 2023-06-08, 14:09 authored by Kathleen Stock
It has seemed to some compelling that construing imagining in relation to fictional events as imagining being aware of those events provides a good explanation of our emotional responses to them. Call this ‘the argument from affective response’. Versions of this argument have been advanced by Kendall Walton and Jerrold Levinson. A more localised version of it, with respect to pornography, is that construing imagining in relation to events represented in pornography as imagining being aware of them provides a good explanation of subsequent arousal. Compelling as this may seem, I argue that it is false. I start by making some distinctions between different kinds of imagining de se, and then focus on the claim that there is a connection between emotional engagement with fiction and implicitly imagining de se, making it more precise in the light of various plausible considerations. I then turn to the case of pornography, examining and rejecting three possible arguments for a necessary connection between imagining, from the inside, being aware of represented events (that is, implicitly imagining de se), and being aroused by them. Since versions of these arguments might equally be applied to affective response to fiction more generally, I take it that I have thereby gone at least part way to undermining the argument from affective response


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  • Published

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Oxford University Press

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Art and pornography: philosophical essays

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  • Philosophy Publications

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Hans Maes, Jerrold Levinson

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