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Would John Stuart Mill have Regulated Pornography?

Lookup NU author(s): Clare McGlynn, Professor Ian Ward


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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 approach to sex, sexual activity, and the regulation of prostitution reveal an altogether more nuanced and activist approach. We conclude that John Stuart Mill would almost certainly have accepted certain forms of pornography regulation and, in this light, we argue that Mill can provide the foundation for new, liberal justifications of some forms of pornography regulation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McGlynn C, Ward I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Law and Society

Year: 2014

Volume: 41

Issue: 4

Pages: 500-522

Print publication date: 01/12/2014

Online publication date: 27/11/2014

ISSN (print): 0263-323X

ISSN (electronic): 1467-6478

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6478.2014.00683.x


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