University of Kansas, Spring 2005
Philosophy 674: Philosophy of Law

Study questions: chapter 7, “Feminism and the Law”

The following questions are intended to guide your reading of the assigned texts by calling attention to key concepts, distinctions, principles, and other parts of the texts. The questions are listed in the order in which their answers should become evident to a close reader.

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  1. pp. 199–208 (based on questions written by Nathan Roser)
    1. What do feminists refer to using the term ‘patriarchy’? Why, according to feminists, should patriarchy be eradicated? How do feminists say it can be eradicated?
    2. What three theses are endorsed by liberal feminists but rejected by radical feminists?
    3. What two conditions must be satisfied in order for discrimination to take place? What further feature must be present in order for there to be oppression?
    4. In what two ways do radical feminists attack the liberal idea of a zone of privacy?
    5. How, according to radical feminists, does the division of labor in a typical marriage tend to benefit the man more than the woman?
  2. pp. 208–220 (based on questions written by Marit Genero)
    1. With what do radical feminists replace the privacy-based abortion-rights argument? What is one objection to the radical feminists’ argument? What is one of the two counter-arguments that Altman gives to this objection?
    2. What is the liberal feminists’ argument for abortion rights? What argument is this supplemented with?
    3. What two types of arguments does Altman consider when evaluating the radical and liberal feminists’ arguments for abortion rights? How do the radical feminists’ claims fare in terms of these two types of arguments? How do the liberal feminists’ claims fare in terms of these two types of arguments?
    4. What are the two sides to the difference debate? Specifically, what do radical feminists argue for? What do liberal feminists argue for?
    5. What is the argument about women’s values and about how they should affect positive law?
  3. pp. 220–233
    1. On what basis do radical feminists argue for laws against pornography?
    2. On what basis do liberal feminists object to laws against pornography? How do radical feminists respond to the claims of liberal feminists?
    3. How does the Indianapolis law involved in American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut differ from obscenity laws?
    4. What is MacKinnon’s criticism of Easterbrook’s insistence on the principle of viewpoint neutrality?
    5. What claim of some radical feminists would reject any attempt to settle the pornography issue through the practice of reasoned argument and counterargument?
  4. American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut (based on questions written by Cliff Phillips)
    1. Advocates of the Indianapolis ordinance acknowledge that the ordinance differs from obscenity laws. Given this, what do they see (according to Easterbrook) as the purpose of the ordinance, if not to “vindicate community standards of offensiveness”?
    2. What is Easterbrook’s view in regard to whether pornography tends to perpetuate the subordination of women? What is his view in regard to whether pornography is a form of speech?
    3. What is Easterbrook's position on whether speech can actually play a part in psychological conditioning that results in harm? What is Easterbrook’s view in regard to whether it is permissible to prohibit speech on the grounds that it results in harmful conditioning?
    4. Ultimately, why is Indianapolis’s anti-pornography statute a violation of the First Amendment? (On this point, see Easterbrook’s mention of the power to declare truth.)
    5. In what way can Easterbrook's opinion be said to support certain feminism? (On this point, see the last paragraph of section III.)