Free Speech Archives



More Generally: Politics (155)

April 7, 2012

The Pseudo-Voltaire Principle

Voltaire famously didn't say, "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it." There is, however, something quite important in the sentiment, which Voltaire of course endorsed, and it can be generalized beyond the case of speech. Call the following the Pseudo-Voltaire Principle: It often happens that there is an agent S and domain of action A such that: (a) S has the exclusive right to make decisions with respect to A, so that it would be morally wrong for anyone to attempt to interfere with S's implementation of her decisions with...
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March 9, 2010

Deontic Utilitarianism, Liberty Utilitarianism, and Deontologism

I just came across the following passage by J.J.C. Smart in Smart and Williams' Utilitarianism: For and Against: What Bentham, Mill and Moore are all agreed on is that the rightness of an action is to be judged solely by consequences, states of affairs brought about by the action. Of course we shall have to be careful here not to construe 'state of affairs' so widely that any ethical doctrine becomes utilitarian. For if we did so we would not be saying anything at all in advocating utilitarianism. If, for example, we allowed 'the state of having kept a promise'...
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July 7, 2009

Community Standards of Decency

May communities (justly) set standards of decency? In the recent Philosophers' Carnival, Russell Blackford of Metamagician and the Hellfire Club (a blog with which I am not familiar) argues that they may not. Blackford argues from not-quite-libertarian principles (he allows some limited degree of paternalism) to the conclusion that neither burkas nor nudity should be banned in public. What I want to do here is to show that, on the libertarian picture, either having or not having community standards of decency creates a problem, and try to chart a way forward from there. Libertarians (and, indeed, all proponents of liberal democracy)...
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July 9, 2008

R.I.P. Lex Americanorum (Sept. 17 , 1787 - July 9, 2008)

Lex Americanorum, the King of America, passed away this afternoon on the Senate floor. Lex had been ill for some years and White House-ologists in Moscow have long suspected that one or more cabinet members had in fact taken responsibility for most major decisions. The exact identity of this person had not been firmly established, but most experts agree that it is Vice President Dick Cheney. Lex was born on September 17, 1787 and became king shortly thereafter upon election by representatives of the 13 American colonies. Lex was able to survive and maintain power for nearly 221 years...
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September 5, 2007

Washington Primary System Case to be Heard By Supreme Court

The Washington Primary System case has been accepted by the supreme court and is, in fact, the very first case on the Supreme Court docket for the upcoming season, which begins Monday October first. All the documents are now online (the newest ones are at the bottom), including the reply briefs by the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Parties, and amicus briefs by the California Democratic Party (the plaintiff in the most important precedent, regarding California's blanket primary, which resembled Washington's original blanket primary), and the Democratic National Committee. Summaries of the arguments of each brief follow: The State of Washington...
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June 5, 2007

The ACLU Has Selective Hearing

Opinion Journal has a great editorial criticizing the recent inaction of the ACLU in defending unpopular speech by conservatives. (HT: Jeff the Baptist.) It wasn't that long ago that the ACLU was defending the right of the Aryan Nations to march in north Idaho. It seems that if you are a nutcase who thinks homosexuals should be burned at the stake, the ACLU thinks you have a right to your opinion, but if you thinks homosexual behavior is immoral it doesn't. It does seem to me to be true that the ACLU has been moving in a more and more partisan leftist direction...
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