First Amendment Theory and Conceptions of the Self
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.