Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (3):589-605 (2019)

Jonathan Seglow
Royal Holloway University of London
Religiously offensive speech, i.e. speech that offends members of religious groups, especially religious minorities, is on the rise in western liberal democracies, particularly following the recent wave of right-wing populism in the UK, the US and beyond. But when is such speech wrongful? This paper argues that the wrongfulness of some religiously offensive speech does not depend on some intrinsic feature of it, or on the subjective reaction of its targets. Instead, such wrongfulness depends on the fact that religiously offensive speech normally takes place against the background of enduring social injustices suffered by certain minorities, for example religious discrimination. In that context, we argue, religiously offensive speech is wrongful when it disables its victims from maintaining an adequately respectful relationship to themselves, and sets back their freedom through domination. Recognizing the wrongfulness of some religiously offensive speech, however, need not entail endorsing its legal regulation all things considered. The paper therefore illustrates different available forms of intervention, ranging from civil law action to state support for the victims of such speech and long-term programmes of citizenship education.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-019-10000-2
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,130
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Two Kinds of Respect.Stephen Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Cartoons Go Global: Provocation, Condemnation and the Possibility of Laughter.Daniel Gamper - 2022 - Sage Publications Ltd: Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (4):530-543.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Free Speech and Offensive Expression.Judith Wagner DeCew - 2004 - Social Philosophy and Policy 21 (2):81-103.
Speech and the Sacred.Andrew F. March - 2012 - Political Theory 40 (3):319-346.
Hate Speech, Dignity and Self-Respect.Jonathan Seglow - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1103-1116.
Just Kidding Folks! An Expressivist Analysis of Humor.Thomas Brommage - 2015 - Florida Philosophical Review 15 (1):66-77.
A Defence of Free Speech.Richard McDonough - 1989 - In Cedric Pan Jaganathan Muraleenathan (ed.), Thinking about Democracy. pp. 61-84.
On Racist Hate Speech and the Scope of a Free Speech Principle.Mary Kate McGowan & Ishani Maitra - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 23 (2):343-372.
Inner Speech, Imagined Speech, and Auditory Verbal Hallucinations.Daniel Gregory - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (3):653-673.
Does Freedom of Speech Include Hate Speech?Caleb Yong - 2011 - Res Publica 17 (4):385-403.


Added to PP index

Total views
23 ( #492,788 of 2,506,492 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #170,106 of 2,506,492 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes