Is Pornography 'Speech'?
Northwestern University School of Law
March 1, 2007
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-08
Is pornography within the coverage of the First Amendment? A familiar argument claims that it is not. This argument reasons that (1) the free speech principle protects the communication of ideas, which appeal to the reason (the major premise); (2) pornography communicates no ideas and appeals to the passions rather than the reason (the minor premise); (3) therefore pornography is not protected by the free speech principle. This argument has been specified in different ways by different writers. The most prominent and careful of these are Frederick Schauer and John Finnis. Both founder on the attempt to distinguish pornography from art, which both would protect. If art, film, and literature should be protected, then this protection should extend to the pornographic subsets of these genres.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Free Speech, Consitutional Law
Date posted: March 29, 2007 ; Last revised: May 8, 2009
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