Beyond the First Amendment: The Politics of Free Speech and Pluralism

Overview

Americans often believe that the First Amendment and free speech are synonymous and that all restrictions on speech can be addressed by the legal framework of the First Amendment. Political theorist Samuel P. Nelson argues that the current legal framework for free speech actually undermines attempts to resolve many of these issues and that the law of the First Amendment has supplanted the vital politics of free speech.

To cut through the confusion, Nelson takes a step back from ...

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Overview

Americans often believe that the First Amendment and free speech are synonymous and that all restrictions on speech can be addressed by the legal framework of the First Amendment. Political theorist Samuel P. Nelson argues that the current legal framework for free speech actually undermines attempts to resolve many of these issues and that the law of the First Amendment has supplanted the vital politics of free speech.

To cut through the confusion, Nelson takes a step back from the First Amendment framework to understand the social nature of speech, moving toward a more pluralistsic and value-based understanding. He examines three philosophies commonly used to justify speech protection—libertarianism, expressivism, and egalitarianism—and finds none of them sufficiently responsive in today's contemporary political landscape.

Advocating an approach grounded in value pluralism—which describes a wider variety of free speech claims than the First Amendment allows—Nelson pushes the debate beyond constitutional and legal questions.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Perspectives on Politics
Ambitious and fertile book.

— Charles R. Epp

Perspectives on Politics - Charles R. Epp

Ambitious and fertile book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801881732
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel P. Nelson is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toledo.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction : expression, politics, and pluralism
1 The first amendment framework 16
2 Public debate and the libertarian justification 30
3 Self-realization and the expressivist justification 61
4 Equality and the egalitarian justification 87
5 A model of free speech justifications 106
6 Speech acts 123
7 The pluralist framework for freedom of speech 139
8 Free speech claims under the pluralist framework 159
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