Contemporary Political Theory 10 (2):255-272 (2011)

This essay examines contemporary liberal theory in light of the 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The objective is both to show the limits of liberal theory, in particular with regard to constituents who do not share liberalism's view of acceptable harm, and to discuss how these limits give us reason to supplement liberal theory with other recourses from critical theory and phenomenology. The essay warns against a bifurcation of law and harm, and instead argues for a pluralization of the possible links between them. To this end, the essay foregrounds what T.M. Scanlon dubs a certain ‘creative instability’, which works to energize liberalism's practice of free speech. The essay tracks this possibility in relation to the plurality and energy intrinsic to the 12 Jyllands-Posten cartoons, and suggests that liberal theory can learn from thinkers such as Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze who focus on the variable impacts and framings of free speech. The upshot is a self-critical theory of free expression, one that links harmful speech to the affirmation of mutual contestation, social equality and respect for difference
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DOI 10.1057/cpt.2010.23
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Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.

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