Abstract
Philosophy & Social Criticism, Volume 48, Issue 4, Page 460-472, May 2022. The article presents different theories and comparative analyses of freedom of speech in both liberal and non-liberal traditions. Whereas freedom of speech is not an absolute right, the question is if this right should depend wholly on the truth of the respective opinion or statement. Theories that justify free speech on the grounds of autonomy, tend to make truth a moral requirement of speech. Theories based on civility and public reason do restrict freedom of speech even further, often making a form of recognition a precondition of free speech. This reveals to be particularly relevant in multicultural contexts and discussions about blasphemy. From this overview of contemporary, global comparative debates on free speech, the article draws some conclusions. First, there should be the absolute primacy of free speech regarding governments and the powerful: Speak truth to power. Second, free speech should underlie no constraints where important individual rights are at stake. Third, academic freedom has a special status and should not be subject to the same limits as freedom of expression more generally. Forth, in civil society and the public sphere a more moderate approach to free speech should be adopted based on civility, public reason and recognition. Yet, any limits should be of moral and not legal nature.
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DOI 10.1177/01914537221095285
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