Pornography and the Constitution

Joel Feinberg

in The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law: Volume 2: Offense to Others

Published in print May 1988 | ISBN: 9780195052152
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785872 | DOI:
 Pornography and the Constitution

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The Supreme Court views the word “obscene” as akin to word “pornographic”. Nothing is “obscene” unless it tends to cause erotic states in the mind of the beholder, and anything that produces this kind of “psychic stimulation” is a likely candidate for the obscenity label whether or not the induced states are offensive to the person who has them or anyone else aware of them. Recent Supreme Court decisions on the permissibility of pornography, particularly the various judicial formulae the court has produced to deal with the problem, are reviewed. It is shown that the Court has vacillated between different legitimizing principles, applying either a liberal offense principle mediated by balancing tests or a thinly disguised moralism.

Keywords: Supreme Court; pornography; obscenity; judicial formulae

Chapter.  11616 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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