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Millian Liberalism and Extreme Pornography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Published4 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

I am deeply indebted to John Meadowcroft, Adrian Blau, and Stuart White for providing essential help at crucial stages in my research. Thanks are also due to Elizabeth Morrow, Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, Aris Trantidis, Alex Dymock, Chris Ashford, Bill Glod, and the three anonymous referees for providing important comments and corrections, as well as Hilary Davies (Royal Literary Fund Fellow) for advice on language and presentation. This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/J500057/1) and the Institute for Humane Studies.


  • CowenMillianLiberalismExtremePorn

    Cowen_American_Journal_of_Political_Science_1_.pdf, 157 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:27 Jan 2016

    Version:Final published version

    Licence:CC BY

    C 2015, Midwest Political Science Association (Gold Open Access)

King's Authors


How sexuality should be regulated in a liberal political community is an important, controversial theoretical and empirical question—as shown by the recent criminalization of possession of some adult pornography in the United Kingdom. Supporters of criminalization argue that Mill, often considered a staunch opponent of censorship, would support prohibition due to his feminist commitments. I argue that this account underestimates the strengths of the Millian account of private conduct and free expression, and the consistency of Millian anticensorship with feminist values. A Millian contextual defense of liberty, however, suggests several other policy approaches to addressing the harms of pornography.

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