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Is Pornography 'Speech'?


Andrew Koppelman


Northwestern University School of Law

March 1, 2007

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-08

Abstract:     
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

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Date posted: March 29, 2007 ; Last revised: May 8, 2009

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew, Is Pornography 'Speech'? (March 1, 2007). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 07-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=976914 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.976914

Contact Information

Andrew M. Koppelman (Contact Author)
Northwestern University School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8431 (Phone)
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