UCL/Yale: The Criminalisation of Dangerous Speech

Wednesday 22 June 2016, 16:00-18:00pm, London


The Yale-UCL Workshop in Legal Philosophy is an annual seminar series alternating between UCL and Yale. It features work in progress presented by UCL and Yale faculty, as well as speakers from other universities.

One of the most powerful arguments against hate speech is that it is dangerous: it increases the likelihood that listeners will engage in violence and discrimination against targeted groups. Banning hate speech, then, is justified as a strategy for crime prevention. Among the most important scholarly objections to this argument is that it is incompatible with a view of listeners as autonomous. If we regard moral agents as capable of making up their own minds about what to believe and do, as we surely should, we cannot countenance efforts by the state to censor the principles and proposals to which they are exposed.

This paper aims to evaluate whether this autonomy objection to bans on dangerous speech is persuasive, focusing on a particular problem the objection faces. If hateful speech should remain legal because listeners can make up their own minds about whether to embrace and act on its sinister message, why shouldn’t ordinary incitement to crime (such as exhorting someone to commit a murder) be legal for the same reason? Defenders of the autonomy objection to hate speech bans are impaled on the horns of a dilemma. Either they should embrace the legalisation of incitement to crime—thereby running afoul of both established Western legal practice and widespread moral conviction—or else they should renounce their autonomy-based opposition to bans on hate speech.

Find out  more information and register for your free place here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/uclyale-the-criminalisation-of-dangerous-speech-tickets-25486740527?aff=ebrowse

This event is taking place at Pearson G22 LT, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

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