2006 C.B. Macpherson Prize
Winner: L.W. Sumner
The Hateful and the Obscene: Studies in the Limits of Free Expression (University of Toronto Press, 2004)
Excerpt from jury report: In The Hateful and the Obscene, L.W. Sumner develops an original theory of free expression and applies it to the leading cases of obscenity and hate literature in Canada. The theory, drawing on elements from J.S. Mill (his consequentialism and the harm principle), is developed with great care and clarity, and is then used as a framework in analyzing the leading Canadian judicial decisions on pornography and hate propaganda. In this way, Sumner is able to situate – and assess – the legal decisions and reasonings by reference to fundamental philosophical principles concerning free expression. These analyses are comprehensive and powerful – illuminating the judicial decisions and sometimes criticizing them. This book is brilliantly original and will come to be recognized as a major work in the philosophical literature on free expression.