Intellectual Agency and Responsibility for Belief in Free Speech Theory

Legal Theory 19 (3):307-330 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The idea that human beings are intellectually self-governing plays two roles in free-speech theory. First, this idea is frequently called upon as part of the justification for free speech. Second, it plays a role in guiding the translation of free-speech principles into legal policy by underwriting the ascriptive framework through which responsibility for certain kinds of speech harms can be ascribed. After mapping out these relations, I ask what becomes of them once we acknowledge certain very general and profound limitations in people's capacity for intellectual self-governance. I argue that acknowledging these limitations drastically undermines the putative justifications for free speech of the type that I identify in the first part of the paper. I then show how we can reformulate an account of intellectual and doxastic responsibility on which we may still be held responsible for what we think or believe even though we lack agent-causal capacities in our thinking and believing. Then, in light of this ascriptive account of intellectual responsibility, I show how the key ideahave minds of their owncan (and should) still play a significant role in guiding the legislative outworkings of free speech

Similar books and articles

What is Free Speech?David Braddon-Mitchell & Caroline West - 2004 - Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (4):437-460.
The Free Speech Argument against Pornography.Caroline West - 2003 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):391 - 422.
Free speech and illocution.Rae Langton & Jennifer Hornsby - 1998 - Legal Theory 4 (1):21-37.
A Perfectionist Defense of Free Speech.J. K. Miles - 2012 - Social Theory and Practice 38 (2):213-230.
Censorship and Freedom of Speech.Robert Sparrow - 2004 - In Justin Healy (ed.), Censorship and Free Speech. The Spinney Press. pp. 1-4.
Does Freedom of Speech Include Hate Speech?Caleb Yong - 2011 - Res Publica 17 (4):385-403.
Free Speech.Alan Haworth - 1998 - Routledge.
Electronic commerce and free speech.Jessica Litman - 1999 - Ethics and Information Technology 1 (3):213-225.


Added to PP

474 (#30,708)

6 months
80 (#31,141)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Robert Mark Simpson
University College London

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Responsibility for believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.
Deciding to believe.Bernard Williams - 1973 - In Problems of the Self. Cambridge University Press. pp. 136--51.
Free speech and illocution.Rae Langton & Jennifer Hornsby - 1998 - Legal Theory 4 (1):21-37.
Doxastic compatibilism and the ethics of belief.Sharon Ryan - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):47-79.

View all 12 references / Add more references