Media Violence and Freedom of Speech: How to Use Empirical Data [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (5):493-505 (2008)
Susan Hurley has argued against a well known argument for freedom of speech, the argument from autonomy, on the basis of two hypotheses about violence in the media and aggressive behaviour. The first hypothesis says that exposure to media violence causes aggressive behaviour; the second, that humans have an innate tendency to copy behaviour in ways that bypass conscious deliberation. I argue, first, that Hurley is not successful in setting aside the argument from autonomy. Second, I show that the empirical data are irrelevant to statutory regulation of media violence. They do not yield a sufficiently strong correlation between exposure to media violence and non-autonomously copied criminal violence, and they do not yield a way ex ante to individuate the viewers who will be affected by media violence.
Keywords hurley  freedom of speech  autonomy  violence  media  aggression  cognitive science  neuroscience
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-008-9125-7
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Thomas Scanlon (1972). A Theory of Freedom of Expression. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (2):204-226.

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