We live in an age of ideology, propaganda, and tribalism. Political conformity is enforced from many sides; the insidious social control that John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling.” Liberal or left-minded people are often more afraid of each other than of their conservative or right wing opponents. Social media and call-out-culture makes it easier to name, shame, ostracize and harass non-conformists, and destroys careers and lives.
How can we oppose this, regaining freedom and our sense of ourselves as individuals? The Tyranny of Opinion identifies the problem, defines its character, and proposes strategies of resistance. Russell Blackford calls for an end to ideological purity policing and for recommitment to the foundational liberal values of individual liberty and spontaneity, free inquiry, diverse opinion, and honest debate.
About the Author
Russell Blackford is a philosopher, legal scholar, literary critic based at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He is the author of Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination (2017), Philosophy's Future 2017), 50 Great Myths about Atheism (2013). In 2014, he was inducted as a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction and overview
2. Mill on liberty: Morality, paternalism, and harm
3. Freedom of thought and freedom of speech
4. The limits to speaking our minds
5. Conformity and its limits
6. Ideology, propaganda, and outrage
7. You can't say that! Identity politics and the flight from liberalism
8. Cyberspace and its discontents
9. Conclusion: What can you do?