Critiquing Free Speech: First Amendment Theory and the Challenge of Interdisciplinarity

Critiquing Free Speech: First Amendment Theory and the Challenge of Interdisciplinarity

Critiquing Free Speech: First Amendment Theory and the Challenge of Interdisciplinarity

Critiquing Free Speech: First Amendment Theory and the Challenge of Interdisciplinarity

Synopsis

In this exceptional volume, Matthew D. Bunker explores the work of contemporary free speech critics and argues that, while at times these critics provide important lessons, many of their conclusions must be rejected. Moreover, Bunker suggests that we be wary of interdisciplinary approaches to free speech theory that--by their very assumptions and techniques--are a poor "fit" with existing free speech theory and doctrine. In his investigation of diverse critiques of free speech theory and his sophisticated rebuttal, he provides an innovative and important examination of First Amendment theory. In doing so, he establishes a new agenda for First Amendment theory scholarship that incorporates some of the critics' insights without abandoning the best aspects of the free speech tradition. COPY FOR MAILER: Distinctive features in this volume include: * an overview of the traditional approaches to First Amendment theory, * an examination of work from key First Amendment scholars and theorists, at both the individual and group level, * an emphasis on interdisciplinarity ranging from femi- nist and critical legal scholars to economists and literary theorists, and * a new agenda for First Amendment theory scholar- ship which incorporates critical comment while pre- serving the best aspects of the free speech tradition.

Excerpt

As the previous chapter's discussion of Professor Fish's views revealed, to explore the value and scope of constitutionally protected self-expression, it is necessary to have some understanding of the “self” that is engaging in expression. in fact, much First Amendment theory seems to derive from the liberal notion of a self that is detached from others and requires the freedom to pick and choose among ideas and conceptions of the good life. Liberal theorists from John Locke and John Stuart Mill to John Rawls have posited such a self as the basis for extensive individual rights that have precedence over the demands of the larger community. the “liberal self” is thus an atomistic individual with certain claims of autonomy from the state, including free speech.

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