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Should pornography and obscenity be controlled in society, and, if so, what kind of control is desirable? This issue deeply concerns and excites the passions of people in many countries. It is difficult to make a wise decision regarding the control of pornography, for the debate tends to be distorted by impassioned rhetoric and misinformation. There is also a divergence of views on this much-debated subject. Feminists like Susan Brownmiller advocate censorship of pornography on the basis that it is "the undiluted essence of antifemale propaganda." Liberals and libertarians, who follow in the tradition of John Stuart Mill, argue against censorship on the ground that prohibitions against the dissemination of any form of information function to preserve the status quo and to prevent the development of a critically reflective morality which is necessary to pave the way for needed social change.
Pornography and Censorship facilitates rational and informed debate on the topic of pornography and censorship by collecting in one volume related studies from philosophy, the social sciences, and law and provides a wide range of points of view on the subject. It gathers together some of the best recent social-scientific studies and the most important works of the past decade.
This book is unusual in the scope of the material discussed which includes key empirical studies by social scientists, conceptual studies by philosophers, and judicial essays. Together these essays present the ethical, political, and legal issues relevant to the problem of pornography and censorship, and assess the bearing of the empirical research on these issues. The interdisciplinary nature of the book reflects the editors' conviction that wise decision-making on public issues requires empirical knowledge, philosophical clarity, and an understanding of the difficulties of formulating principles that can be applied in law.