Would John Stuart Mill Have Regulated Pornography?
Journal of Law and Society, 2014, vol 41(4), pp 500-522
17 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2014 Last revised: 6 Jan 2015
Date Written: June 20, 2014
John Stuart Mill dominates contemporary pornography debates where he is routinely invoked as an authoritative defence against regulation. This article, by contrast, argues that a broader understanding of Mill’s ethical liberalism, his utilitarianism and his feminism casts doubt over such an assumption. New insights into Mill’s thinking on sex, sexual activity and on the regulation of prostitution, reveal an altogether more nuanced and activist approach. In this light, we argue that John Stuart Mill would almost certainly have recommended the regulation of some forms of pornography.
Keywords: pornography, Mill, cultural harm, JS Mill, regulation
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation