This question is increasingly relevant to the way discussions are conducted, public and academic. This was particularly the case for the Same-Sex Marriage debate, in which it was suggested [here] that the debate itself was problematic. And the very same concerns have now entered into the universities, with a recent petition for a prominent anti-SSM academic, John Finnis, to be removed from his position for his views [discussion here].
These cases raise immediate questions: Is it wrong to SAY that heterosexual relations are morally superior to homosexual relations? Does it matter whether it is true or not? Is there an inoffensive way of saying such a thing? If not, is the offense enough to make it wrong? To mean that it should be illegal? How CAN we have this sort of discussion? But there are also broader questions: How can we discuss ANYTHING about which opposing sides feel very strongly, if at all? Is sincere offense enough to make speech wrong? How free CAN philosophical discussion be in the public domain? Or is real philosophical discussion just too dangerous in public places?
22/3/2019 12:27:54 pm
Taking my cue from Mill, my suggestion is that (i) each person should have the liberty to publicly profess and discuss any doctrine they sincerely believe, no matter how wrong or offensive, and (ii) to do so under regulations (if any) that apply to all other doctrines and that are not based on its being wrong or offensive, so long as (iii) to do so does not itself present a clear and present danger of harm to others.
27/3/2019 01:53:10 pm
I think we should start by noting different notions of free speech domains by looking at the different spheres it is generally thought to apply to. Firstly, there's the governmental sort of free speech - aka whether or not you can be prosecuted for your speech. Secondly, there's employment free speech - aka whether can you be legitimately fired or otherwise disciplined for your speech by your employer. Thirdly, there's platform free speech - aka whether you are entitled (in some sense, in some institution) to a platform on which to speak.
28/3/2019 03:35:02 pm
29/3/2019 04:33:37 am
2/4/2019 11:24:08 am
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