In two influential articles setting forth his arguments against restrictions on free expression in the 1970s, Harvard philosopher T. M. Scanlon suggested and later rejected the notion that autonomous agency ought to be a primary constraint on most justifications used to restrict speech. The concept of autonomy, he said, was “notoriously vague and slippery” as a basis for judging free-speech restrictions. Instead, Scanlon argued that free expression—and proposed restrictions on it—should be justified in terms of our various “interests” in speech as participants and as audience members. Reliance on autonomy does not provide the justificatory force for a theory of free expression, he said. However, in his landmark 1998 book, What We Owe to Each Other, Scanlon relies heavily on autonomous agency as the foundation of several of his key claims. Scanlon’s claims that our “interests” to protect free expression conflict with his reliance on autonomous agency in What We Owe to Each Other and have important implications for efforts both to cultivate a healthy public sphere and protect the open architecture of the Internet within an increasingly global media culture.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0739-098X
DOI ijap200317214
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