• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Could one censor pornography, on Millean grounds?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Could one censor pornography, on Millean grounds? For years the censorship of pornography has been heavily debated, with philosophers like Mill commonly being quoted. Although Mill does not specifically refer to pornography in his work he gives a variety of principles, all of which are open to interpretation, by which we can come to conclusions on censorship. Views on censorship mainly depend on the harm or offence it causes and what kind of pornography is being considered. Pornography ranges from hardcore to soft, involving consenting adults on one hand and on the other hand forcing children to participate in it. Similarly some viewers simply look at it and it has no other effect on them except to "stimulate sexual excitement"1. However it is claimed that some pornography depicts a degrading picture of women and in some cases has incited men to use violence against women. In my essay I shall outline what Mill stated concerning freedom of action, spend some time defining and explaining pornography and then link the two, showing both arguments for and against censorship of pornography on Millean grounds. J.S.Mill is often referred to as the founding father of modern liberalism particularly due to his emphasis on freedom of speech and action and minimal government interference so as to maximise human development. ...read more.

Middle

Many would even go as far to say that there is no such thing as a self-regarding act as "no action, however intimate, is free from social consequences"10. Therefore as pornography does have consequences on society, most of which people believe are bad, it should be censored. One could also argue that Mill being a utilitarian would censor pornography as it does not bring happiness and therefore is a wrong action. Ryan admits that "the utilitarian must admit there will be cases where people are made happier by giving them less freedom rather than more"11 and therefore censoring pornography might be right. However Mill believes that we all search for a higher truth in our actions in regard to mortality and that is why they should not be interfered with as it is an "invasion of liberty which thwarts the development of human individuality"12. Pornography, though, is not about great moral and philosophical truths, does not help individuals develop and has no real value except to satisfy people's base lusts in life. Therefore as it is a lower physical pleasure, perhaps one can argue that Mill would censor it as it is not beneficial to society's progress. ...read more.

Conclusion

And this would mean the state would start to claim to be "an infallible guide on such matters"22 which is dangerous. Thus many like Brannon Miller believe that Mill would not support censoring because "informal sanctions of society"23 and "oppressive legal controls"24 would inhibit people's individual liberty. And if the government is given a freer hand in interfering with society in more trivial issues such as pornography it might then lead to further interference in more important issues in society. There is also the minor issue that it would be very hard for a government to censor pornography today due to the most common medium being the Internet, which is extremely difficult to control. Although personally I would myself censor pornography and perhaps even ban it given half a chance, I have to agree that from reading Mill, on his grounds you probably would not censor pornography. This would mainly be because it does not fulfil his principle of interference if there is harm and I do agree that he is referring to direct harm rather than "potential harm"25, however narrow that view may be. Censoring pornography would restrict people's liberty to act as they please and also curtail the happiness of those who find enjoyment in the baser, lower pleasures of life. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. So, whats wrong with Anarchism?

    This theory was put forward by anarchists such as Malatesta, Elis´┐Że Reclus and Kropotkin. In an anarchist society as such, the work would be organised by voluntary associations of workers, there would be communes who would support the needs of the people in that area as well as co-ordinate projects such as road and railway systems which crossed that area7.

  2. Implanted Truths

    As a young child, Wright does not inherently know that there must be differences between him and the white people he sees every day. This is best shown when, as a young child, Wright can not understand the outrage of the blacks around him concerning the beating of black child at the hands of a white man.

  1. America Liberalism

    Hamilton was deeply afraid of living in a society that was too liberal. He did not like the idea of the redistribution of wealth because he foresaw a society where the have nots' would be taking from the haves'. Hamilton embodied all the central ideas of the Federalists, some which were liberal and others that were not.

  2. John Stuart Mill was the son of a philosopher who worked with Jeremy Bentham. ...

    There is also strong and weak rule utilitarianism. Strong utilitarianism is where the rules should never be broken, whereas weak is where the rules can sometimes be broken and is more flexible although the rule will still need to be taken into account.

  1. Year 12 Essay On Utilitarianism

    Rule utilitarian's follow a guideline for general decision making within a community to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Weak rule utilitarian's bend the rules to fit with the circumstances. Strong rule utilitarian's follow the rules to the exact words. There are a number of difficulties with utilitarianism.

  2. The relationship between censorship and student publications by specifically drawing on the Rabelais case

    Heerey J8 provided further insight, claiming this relationship to accommodate an imbalance in which the protection of representative democracy overrides the protection of dissent9 by student publications: It should be noted that Anarchist theory extended from non-violent writers and political leaders like Tolstoy, Thoreau and Ghandi to Proudhon (property is theft)...

  1. The ability to manage conflict is undoubtedly one of the most important skills a ...

    Of course, avoiding might also take the form of diplomatic sidestepping an issue, postponing discussion until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation. So avoiding can have its uses especially if neither the relationship nor the issue is important to you.

  2. Compare Hobbes and Locke's views on the obligation to obey the law.

    doing the somersault) is very difficult. (Simmons) Tacit consent by omission is a valid idea (there can be conventions under which you signal your consent by not doing anything) but these same conditions must apply to it, and merely staying in the country does not fulfil either condition.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work