Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction [NOOK Book]

Overview

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' This slogan, attributed to Voltaire, is frequently quoted by defenders of free speech. Yet it is rare to find anyone prepared to defend all expression in every circumstance, especially if the views expressed incite violence. So where do the limits lie? What is the real value of free speech? Here, Nigel Warburton offers a concise guide to important questions facing modern society about the value ...
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Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' This slogan, attributed to Voltaire, is frequently quoted by defenders of free speech. Yet it is rare to find anyone prepared to defend all expression in every circumstance, especially if the views expressed incite violence. So where do the limits lie? What is the real value of free speech? Here, Nigel Warburton offers a concise guide to important questions facing modern society about the value and
limits of free speech: Where should a civilized society draw the line? Should we be free to offend other people's religion? Are there good grounds for censoring pornography? Has the Internet changed everything? This Very Short Introduction is a thought-provoking, accessible, and up-to-date
examination of the liberal assumption that free speech is worth preserving at any cost.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A very careful and efficient inspection of this area by discussing the central arguments as they are related to the idea of free speech while examining the need for limitations... The title will be great for students who have been newly introduced to the idea of free speech and need a to the point look at free speech without feeling overwhelmed by mounds of legal jargon... very well written and easy to read beginning to the topic of free speech. The organization of the book provided a straightforward discussion that readers could follow effortlessly... I found Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction to provide exactly what the title series set out to accomplish by introducing the free speech in a brief and easy to read format."—AALL Spectrum
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191622786
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 2/26/2009
  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 506,977
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Nigel Warburton is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Open University. He is the author of the bestselling Philosophy: The Basics.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Accessible, Interesting and Contemporary Introduction to Free Speech

    Freedom of speech is considered one of the most fundamental human freedoms, especially in modern liberal democracies. It has become de facto THE litmus test of overall freedom that citizens of any society enjoy. And yet, the notion that we should have this freedom is relatively recent. The modern understanding of this freedom can more or less be traced to John Stewart Mill's "On Liberty," although there have been acknowledgements of the importance of freedom of speech that precede that work.

    This very short introduction covers some of those historical developments, but most of the book is dedicated to the contemporary controversies that surround various interpretations and limitations of the freedom of speech. In particular, the book deals with the famous quote of Oliver Wendell Holmes that freedom of speech does not entail falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre and similar instances where speech can lead to physical or psychological harm. The book gives other examples of where our abstract notions of freedom of speech may collide with reality. The author is very good at appreciating the fact that the real world is very different from an academic discussion seminar, and many practical considerations oftentimes need to be taken into the account when deciding what should and should not be protected as free speech.

    I find this book to be operating from a slight (perhaps unconscious) bias in its treatment of blasphemy and pornography. It seems to imply that religious and anti-religious "speech" (however one defines it) is really not categorically different from other forms of speech and ideas, while on the other hand the author is willing to concede that there is something categorically different when it comes to pornography. While I in fact more or less agree with the conclusions or the general attitude of the author to how these two categories of speech should be handled, I think that religion is a fundamentally separate category of speech and needs to be handled as such. For if this were not the case, if religion were just yet another set of ideas amongst many, then all the laws that have been enacted to ensure the "separation of church and state" would be very grievous violations of the freedom of speech. And this, I am sure, neither the author nor most people this day would find a desirable way to interpret freedom of speech.

    The last chapter deals with the intrinsic conflict between freedom of speech and the modern notion of copyright. Lime in most other discussions of the limitations of free speech that are presented in this book, it is quite clear that there are significant differences of opinion of what constitutes fair use of copyrighted material, across the world and within any given country. The arrival of the internet has only complicated these matters further. This could be a subject of a book in its own right, but this very short introduction does a fairly good job of at least bringing up all the main issues.

    Based on all the controversies that have transpired over the years when the free speech is concerned, it is virtually certain that this will continue to be a much discussed topic for the foreseeable future. This little introduction, however, will continue to be relevant as an accessible overview of this fascinating topic for years to come. It is probably one of the most informative such introductions that are currently available.

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