What is Free Speech?

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

In a country where one can be jailed for one's political opinions, one lacks freedom of speech. Freedom of speech entails the absence of coercive government interference in speech. But the absence of such interference is a merely necessary condition on free speech. What more needs to be the case in order for speech to be truly free?

Agnes Callard explores a Socratic answer to this question, which rejects many of the standard liberal models of free speech--free speech as open debate; free speech as the marketplace of ideas; free speech as openness to persuasion--on the grounds that they fail to guard against the politicisation of speech. She explains what politicisation is; why it is coercive, i.e. unfree; and how Socrates' approach to conversation offers a way of avoiding it.

Agnes Callard is Associate Professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. Her primary areas of specialisation are ancient philosophy and ethics. She is also noted for her popular writings and work on public philosophy.

This is an in-person event. Reception to follow.