The Obscenity of Internet Pornography: A Philosophical Analysis of the Regulation of Sexually Explicit Internet Content

Dissertation, Bowling Green State University (2004)

Amelia White
University of Manchester
This dissertation has two principle aims: To show that current arguments from proponents and opponents of the regulation of sexually explicit Internet content are unsound and to construct an argument against content regulation that avoids the failures of current arguments. ;The dissertation is organized into seven chapters. In Chapter One I provide background information on attempts to regulate sexually explicit materials and briefly outline the development of the Internet. Chapter Two examines the current regulation of obscenity on the Internet. Chapter Three investigates the claim that the Internet should not be regulated due to the value of free speech. In this chapter I examine the claims that opponents of Internet regulation make and the applicability of the First Amendment to Internet speech. I argue that proponents' claims, which are often based on the arguments originally expounded by John Stuart Mill, fall short and are not sound. The next three chapters investigate arguments in support of regulation. These arguments include claims that an unregulated Internet can harm children, women and societal morals. I examine each of the arguments proponents give in support of regulatory action and argue that they are defective. Given the faulted nature of proponents' arguments, it is my conclusion that the arguments fail to justify Internet content regulation. ;Drawing on the conclusions offered in previous chapters, in the final chapter I offer a consequentialist argument against the regulation of sexually explicit Internet materials. Given that, as concluded in previous chapters, the arguments provided to prove that sexually explicit materials on the Internet are harmful fail, there will be little utility gained by regulation. In addition, in this chapter I outline the harm that will be produced by regulating the Internet and conclude that, overall, disutility will ensue if such materials are regulated
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