Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

The Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases and Theories/Authors' Comments

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

The Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases and Theories/Authors' Comments

Article excerpt

The Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases and Theories Mark Alfino and Laura Koltutsky, eds. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2014. 469 pp. $50

This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in ethical and legal issues regarding intellectual freedom (IE), although it will appeal especially to readers with a library science background, since that is the orientation of the majority of the authors. In this review, I shall focus on three main qualities of the book that impressed me, though of course these are not its only virtues.

First, the book offers an outstanding range of topics regarding information ethics and law. Part One addresses theoretical aspects of intellectual freedom and relationships between IE and other theories or concepts: Mark Alfino presents philosophies of intellectual freedom, Douglas Raber tackles ways in which hegemony in Antonio Gramsci's thought relates to IE, Jon Buschman explores how aspects of the work of Juergen Habermas relate to intellectual freedom, Lauren Pressley examines relationships between feminism and IE, and Laura Koltutsky investigates the relationship of neo-liberalism to intellectual freedom. Part Two focuses on intellectual freedom as it relates to various aspects of emerging communication technologies: Susan Forde addresses journalism for social justice, Robert Tiessen analyzes intellectual property in light of considerations of IE, Elizabeth Buchanan explores intellectual freedom aspects of the Internet, and Oliver Charbonneau surveys open access issues relating to IE. Part Three covers legal and international aspects: Leonard Hammer delves into the international right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, Tomas Lipinski addresses hate speech issues, Susan Maret explores issues involving U.S. government secrecy, Neil Richards and Joanna Cornwell examine the relationships between privacy and intellectual freedom, and Dale Herbeck considers material regarding defamation. Part Four focuses on particular issues: Emily Knox addresses intellectual freedom and religion, Svetlana Mintcheva analyzes art censorship, Robert Hooley investigates intellectual freedom and sex, James Carmichael considers matters involving sexual orientation and gender expression, Joe Cutbirth reviews issues in journalism, and Mark Alfino concludes the volume with a study of academic and intellectual freedom.

Second, the book does well to investigate ethical and legal aspects of IE both in its U.S. context and in its international dimensions. About half of the twenty one chapters address some international aspect in a meaningful or significant way. In an increasingly globally connected and interdependent world, especially as intellectual freedom and the Internet intersect, we need to understand better and analyze more fully these aspects in order to take appropriate action.

Last, but not least, the chapters-both individually and collectively-do an excellent job connecting theoretical and conceptual aspects of IE with its practical impacts and dimensions. More than half of the chapters engage in some meaningful or significant form of theoretical or conceptual analysis, and all of the chapters address issues of applied information ethics and law.

Two final notes may be of interest to potential readers. First, most of the chapters take a descriptive, or primarily descriptive, rather than a prescriptive approach. That is, most chapters do not argue for some "best" or "correct" theory or solution, but rather inform the reader of relevant theories, interpretations of theories, ethical and legal issues, and potential solutions or approaches. Second, a significant minority of the chapters focus exclusively, or almost exclusively, on library-related concerns. While some readers might find this emphasis unsuited to their interests or background, I found these chapters uniformly interesting and insightful despite my lacking any connection to or background in library science. …

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