ADVANTAGES

N2 - Many liberal societies are deeply committed to freedom of speech. This commitment is so entrenched that when it seems to come into conflict with other commitments (e.g., gender equality), it is often argued that the commitment to speech must trump the other commitments. In this paper, we argue that a proper understanding of our commitment to free speech requires being clear about what should count as speech for these purposes. On the approach we defend, “speech” should get a special, technical sense, different from its ordinary sense. We offer a partial characterization of this technical sense. Finally, we argue that if certain theorists (e.g., MacKinnon) are right about what (some) pornography does, then it should fall outside the scope of the free-speech principle. If so, then contrary to first appearances, pornography may not be a case in which our commitments to freedom and gender equality come into conflict.

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