John Stuart Mill: Freedom of expression and harm in the 'post-truth' era

Bradshaw, Tom (2016) John Stuart Mill: Freedom of expression and harm in the 'post-truth' era. Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, 14 (1). pp. 15-25.

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Abstract

This paper contends that John Stuart Mill’s arguments for freedom of expression – despite being first published in 1859 – remain a powerful framework through which contemporary issues of free speech can be explored and taught. As part of an analysis of Mill’s On liberty, the notion of intolerance being the default condition of mankind and restrictions on free speech being a trans-generational wrong are delineated. The issue of on-campus censorship is discussed, as are the prominence and causes of self-censorship in both the media and wider society. The usefulness of Mill’s On liberty as a means of exploring these contemporary problems of free speech is expounded, particularly the enduring usefulness of his Harm Principle, and a phenomenon that is called the Paradox of Liberal Inheritance is identified. The concept of alethic disruption is developed to investigate the emergence of ‘post-truth’ news, and a Mill-inspired response to this is outlined. It is argued that Mill articulates principles that modern media students can use as an accessible means of approaching questions of media ethics, and that On liberty also makes powerful points about the etiquette of intellectual debate.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: Conference Paper
Uncontrolled Keywords: John Stuart Mill, freedom of expression, harm, ‘post-truth’ era
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Media > Journalism
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 13:03
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2017 04:34
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4430

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