Blurred lines: How fictional is pornography?

Aidan McGlynn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many pornographic works seem to count as works of fiction. This apparent fact has been thought to have important implications for ongoing controversies about whether some pornography carries problematic messages and so influences the attitudes (and perhaps even the behaviour) of its audience. In this study, I explore the claim that pornographic works are fictional and the significance that this claim has for these issues, with a particular focus on pornographic films. Two related morals will emerge. First, we need to pay attention not merely to whether entire pornographic works should be classified as fictional, but to the way that pornographic fictions (like fictional works more generally) have both fictional and non-fictional elements. Second, we have to understand the ways that pornographic works can blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction, misleading their audiences into taking their fictional elements to be revealing truths about non-fictional reality. In the case of pornographic films, we will examine how a pornographic fiction can be portrayed by people having sex on camera, and the ways in which this portrayal can mislead viewers about sex in the non-fictional world.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number4
Early online date5 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • pornography
  • fiction
  • philosophy of film
  • propaganda
  • speech act theory
  • presupposition
  • pornography and art


Dive into the research topics of 'Blurred lines: How fictional is pornography?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this