Freedom of speech

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  • . If we want to limit speech because of harm then we will have to ban a lot of political speech. Most of it is useless, a lot of it is offensive, and some of it causes harm because it is deceitful, and because it is aimed at discrediting specific groups. It also undermines democratic citizenship and stirs up nationalism and jingoism, which results in harm to citizens of other countries. Even worse than political discourse, according to Kateb, is religious speech; he claims that a lot of religious speech is hateful, useless, dishonest, and ferments war, bigotry and fundamentalism. It also creates bad self-image and feelings of guilt that can haunt persons throughout their lives. Pornography and hate speech, he claims, cause nowhere near as much harm as political and religious speech. His conclusion is that we do not want to ban these forms of speech and the harm principle, therefore, casts its net too far. Kateb's solution is to abandon the principle in favor of almost unlimited speech.
  • Freedom of speech

    1. 1. Freedom of Speech "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.“ Voltaire
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Origins of the concept </li></ul><ul><li>Important documents </li></ul><ul><li>Current status </li></ul><ul><li>Relation to other 'freedoms' </li></ul><ul><li>Arguments for </li></ul><ul><li>Arguments against </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion & tips </li></ul>
    3. 3. Origins of the concept <ul><li>Age of Enlightenment (end of the 17 th c. — beginning of the 19 th c.) </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of middle class (inclusiveness, liberalism, democracy, criticism, feminism, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased demand for information (book industry, newspapers, science) </li></ul><ul><li>Increased people's influence on a country's life </li></ul><ul><li>FOS promoted as a means to reach objectivity </li></ul>
    4. 4. Important documents <ul><li>England’s Bill of Rights 1689 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Members of Parliament; reason — efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone [only men]; reason — social equality </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone; reason — human race </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Current status <ul><li>Officialy recognized by most countries (usually in Constitution) </li></ul><ul><li>However - right to FOS is not absolute in any country </li></ul>
    6. 6. Relation to other 'freedoms' <ul><li>FOS includes the freedoms to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>seek information; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>receive information; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>share information. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Freedom of expression — also by actions </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of media — also in written form </li></ul><ul><li>Right to a fair trial — access to information </li></ul><ul><li>Right to respect & privacy — not to be violated </li></ul>
    7. 7. Arguments for <ul><li>FOS promotes flow of ideas (democratic arg.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>preserves democracy and its institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FOS helps uncover the truth (virtue arg.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good for courts + noble and valuable in itself </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FOS helps people (individual benefit arg.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-actualization, meaning of life, happiness, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Even if offensive, could be easily avoided </li></ul>
    8. 8. Arguments against <ul><li>Theory of self-censorship (J.J. Rousseau) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People should be taught how to use it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Harm principle (J.S. Mill) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legitimate/illegitimate harm (e.g. corn dealer) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being offended ≠ being harmed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Offense principle (J. Feinberg) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broadening the harm principle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very controversial </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Equality argument <ul><li> “ reason to be concerned about pornography, not because it is morally suspect, but because we care about equality and the rights of women” </li></ul>
    10. 10. Stanley Fish We have to decide whether it is better to place a higher value on speech than on the value of privacy, security, equality, or the prevention of harm. Speech can be limited to prevent harm being done to the speaker.
    11. 11. Harm Principle and Hate Speech <ul><li>Does not cause direct harm </li></ul><ul><li>George Kateb (1996) argument: “If we want to limit speech because of harm then we will have to ban a lot of political speech…” </li></ul>
    12. 12. Conclusion & tips <ul><li>Overall – very controversial concept </li></ul><ul><li>Much depends on stakeholders & conditions </li></ul><ul><li>There is no country where FOS is absolute </li></ul><ul><li>Tips: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't try to take a hardcore position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compare costs & benefits </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Q&A http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freedom-speech/

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