In Freedom of Expression as Self-Restraint, Matthew Kramer rigorously expounds the principle of freedom of expression and provides a novel justificatory foundation for it. Under that principle, a system of governance in any society can legitimately prohibit various modes of communication but cannot ever legitimately prohibit them qua modes of communication. As the book argues, such a principle is absolute in that it is exceptionless; it imposes general duties that are binding always and everywhere on every system of governance.
In addition to injecting a new level of philosophical sophistication into the debates over these matters, the book supplies a novel justification for the principle of freedom of expression. It ties that principle to an ideal of governmental self-restraint, and it shows how that ideal connects to the paramount moral responsibility of every system of governance: the responsibility to bring about the political and social and economic conditions under which every member of a society can be warranted in harboring an ample sense of self-respect. In short, compliance by a system of governance with the principle of freedom of expression is integral to the fulfillment of that paramount responsibility.
This conversation will bring together the following scholars:
Lawrence Alexander is the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. He is the Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Law & Religion there. Among his many books is the 2005 Cambridge University Press monograph Is There a Right of Freedom of Expression?
Ishani Maitra is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she has been teaching since 2012. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on freedom of expression, with particular attention to the subtle ways in which the communications of hatemongers and pornographers produce nefarious effects.
Geoffrey Sayre-McCord is the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He is the Director of UNC’s Philosophy, Politics, & Economics Program, and he is the Founding Director of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Society. He is a Regular Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.