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Reputation and Defamation$
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Lawrence McNamara

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199231454

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231454.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Protecting Reputation: The Principal Test for What is Defamatory

Protecting Reputation: The Principal Test for What is Defamatory

(p.107) 5 Protecting Reputation: The Principal Test for What is Defamatory
Reputation and Defamation

Lawrence McNamara

Oxford University Press

This chapter evaluates the manner and extent to which reputation is protected under modern common law. Section I looks at the place moral judgment has occupied in the principal test for what is defamatory. By examining the actionability of particular imputations and general statements of legal principle, it is possible to see how the legal standard of judgment gradually acquired a particular content, that being the traditional values of Christian morality. Section II addresses the quantitative dimension of diversity and it is suggested that the American ‘sectional standards’ test is to be preferred to the Anglo-Australian law that looks to the ‘general standards’ of the community. Section III moves to the substance of the views held in a jurisdiction. It looks at how qualitative distinctions have been drawn between different moral taxonomies to limit the legal protection of reputation in particular ways. Here, it is suggested that determinations of defamatory capacity depend upon processes of ‘ethical recognition’ of criteria for moral judgment.

Keywords:   hatred, contempt, ridicule, lowering the estimation, Sim v Stretch, right-thinking person, moral taxomonies, tradition, sectional standards, chastity

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