New Philosophy Pre-Law Course, Spring 2017: Political Speech and Hate Speech

Posted on 10/25/2016 3:16:42 PM

PHIL 481: Political Speech and Hate Speech (satisfies PHIL pre-law requirement)

Course Description: Many liberal democracies are deeply committed to the principle of free speech. However, exactly what a right to free speech entails is unclear and controversial. Moreover, evidence demonstrates that some kinds of speech, especially when unregulated, are detrimental to other important liberal values such as social equality and political participation. Might a commitment to equality require that we regulate speech that is harmful? What is the extent of these harms? Which kinds of speech are harmful in ways that merit such regulation?

The course explores the practical, political, and theoretical commitments implicit in the First Amendment and the various arguments for protecting and regulating political expression. The course also examines real-world cases of access to political speech, especially through campaign activities, and hate speech directed at one’s racial, gender, or sexual identity. Students will read First Amendment jurisprudence, its history in the Supreme Court, and political theories concerning the relationship between speech and democratic representation. Students will explore how these theories bear on questions about our access to political speech and whether campaign fundraising practices undermine the value of free speech and our political expression. They will also study whether hate speech ought to be protected by the First Amendment. A range of arguments for and against will be considered.

The course is taught by Professor John Ramsey and meets TR 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. in HSS 224.