The classic liberal justification for freedom of expression has been stated by John Milton (pitctured left) in Areopagitica – A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England and by John Stuart Mill (pictured right) in On Liberty.
John Stuart Mill’s defense of freedom of expression has proved extremely influential and finds important echoes in First Amendment jurisprudence. Though important in its own right, Mill’s defense of freedom of expression also plays an important, though sometimes overlooked, role in his more general defense of individual liberties. Mill turns to freedom of expression in the belief that there is general agreement on the importance of freedom of expression and that, once the grounds for expressive liberties are understood, this agreement can be exploited to support a more general defense of individual liberties. This means that a proper understanding of the significance of Mill’s defense of freedom of expression requires not only reconstructing his arguments on behalf of expressive liberties and exploring their bearing on issues of freedom of expression but also seeing how these arguments generalize to other kinds of liberties. In this regard, it is especially instructive to consider how his claims about freedom of expression inform his liberal principles, especially what his discussion of the best grounds for expressive liberties can tell us about the best grounds for opposing paternalism. But it is also worth exploring whether philosophical pressure runs in the other direction as well – whether Mill’s discussions of liberalism, in general, and paternalism, in particular, have implications for the proper articulation of principles governing expressive liberties. This perspective requires viewing Mill’s defense of freedom of expression in the context of his liberalism.
Meanwhile, from John Naughton:
Quote of the day
Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.
John Milton: Areopagitica
The case for the blogosphere, in a nutshell.