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Reason in ActionCollected Essays Volume I$
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John Finnis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580057

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580057.001.0001

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Reason, Passions, and Free Speech

Reason, Passions, and Free Speech

(p.277) 17 Reason, Passions, and Free Speech
Reason in Action

John Finnis

Oxford University Press

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

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