David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Res Publica 17 (1):75-90 (2011)
An objection frequently brought against critical or satirical expressions, especially when these target religions, is that they are ‘offensive’. In this article, I indicate why the existence of diverse and conflicting beliefs gives people an incentive to formulate their complaints in the language of offence. But I also cast doubt on whether people, in saying they are offended really mean to present that as the foundation of their complaint and, if they do, whether their complaint should weigh with us. These doubts do not apply to everything we might find offensive; in particular, they do not apply to simple cases of ‘sensory offence’; but they do apply to ‘belief-based offence’. Relying on offence also implies, inequitably, that different faiths should be differently protected depending on their susceptibility to offence; and the faithful themselves should worry about the flimsiness of claims based on ‘bare knowledge’ offence. I propose a principle of respect for beliefs as a differently grounded and more plausible reason for curbing our treatment of others’ beliefs. However, that principle has a limited compass and is hemmed in by the claims of free expression. It is also less suited to dictating the content of law than to influencing our conduct within the law
|Keywords||Freedom of speech Freedom of expression Offence Offensiveness Respect Respect for beliefs Danish cartoons Jerry Springer: the Opera|
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References found in this work BETA
H. L. A. Hart (1964). Law, Liberty, and Morality. Philosophical Review 73 (2):271-274.
Joel Feinberg (1987). Offense to Others. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48 (1):147-153.
A. P. Simester & Andrew von Hirsch (2002). Rethinking the Offense Principle. Legal Theory 8 (3):269-295.
Christian F. Rostbøll (2009). Autonomy, Respect, and Arrogance in the Danish Cartoon Controversy. Political Theory 37 (5):623-648.
Anthony Ellis (1984). Offense and the Liberal Conception of the Law. Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (1):3-23.
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