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freedom of speech

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P olitical philosophy The freedom to express one's own mind in speech, writing, or some other way without prior restriction, contemporary constraint, or subsequent punishment. The fundamental justifications for freedom of speech are its essential role in the pursuit of truth and in free political life, and its fundamental contribution to our dignity as rational and self-determining beings. Hence, freedom of speech has instrumental value. Freedom of speech has been regarded as one of the basic human rights that governments have a basic requirement to protect. Even those fully committed to maintaining freedom of speech recognize that some speech can rightly be restricted by law. Speech that seriously endangers individuals, groups, or the nation as a whole are often judged to lie outside the protection of freedom of speech. There are various conflicts over the kinds of speech that may be restricted and over the competing rationales for restricting them. While certain kinds of speech are recognized as being harmful, suppressing freedom of speech with-out rational grounds is seen as a greater evil. The discussion of free speech is related to questions about the rationality of censorship and to the consideration of other basic freedoms. “We may take for granted that a democratic regime presupposes freedom of speech and assembly, and liberty of thought and conscience.” Rawls, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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