Community Standards

Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 20 Aug 2013

See all articles by Alan D. Miller

Alan D. Miller

Faculty of Law, Western University

Date Written: August 14, 2013


I introduce a model of community standards relevant to the judicial determination of obscenity. Standards are defined as subjective judgments restricted only by a simple reasonableness condition. Individual standards are aggregated to form the community standard. Several axioms reflect legal concerns. These require that the community standard (a) preserve unanimous agreements, (b) become more permissive when all individuals become more permissive, and not discriminate, ex ante, (c) between individuals and (d) between works. I show that any rule which satisfies these properties must be “similar” to unanimity rule. I also consider explore the relationship between the model and the doctrinal paradox of Kornhauser and Sager (1986).

Keywords: Obscenity, Community Standards, Axioms, Unanimity Rule, Aggregation, Doctrinal Paradox

JEL Classification: D70, D71, D72

Suggested Citation

Miller, Alan D., Community Standards (August 14, 2013). Journal of Economic Theory, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Alan D. Miller (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, Western University ( email )

1151 Richmond Street
London, Ontario N6A3K7


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