Reason, Passions, and Free Speech

John Finnis

in Reason in Action

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580057
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729379 | DOI:
Reason, Passions, and Free Speech

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This chapter presents a 1967 essay, cited in the US Supreme Court's lasting settlement of obscenity law in 1973, and it explores the applicability of the classic and Humean distinctions between reason and passions to the demarcation of the ‘speech’ protected by constitutional ‘freedom of speech’. It traces the development of obscenity law; the place of reason in Madison's Federalist papers; the idea of aesthetic distance developed by Geoffrey Bullough, Suzanne Langer, and Peter Strawson; and the course of Supreme Court doctrine from 1942 to 1966. The 1973 citation is shown, in the endnote, to have been an empty success.

Keywords: obscenity; aesthetic distance; Madison; The Federalist; Geoffrey Bullough; Suzanne Langer; US Supreme Court

Chapter.  10815 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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