In Praise of Evil Thoughts

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1 Scopus citations


Freedom of thought means freedom from social tyranny, the capacity to think for oneself, to encounter even shocking ideas without shrinking away from them. That aspiration is a core concern of the free speech tradition. It is not specifically concerned with law, but it explains some familiar aspects of the First Amendment law we actually have - aspects that the most prevalent theories of free speech fail to capture. It explains the prohibition of compelled speech, and can clarify the perennial puzzle of why freedom of speech extends to art and literature. It also tells us something about the limits of legal regulation, and about the ethical obligations of private actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-71
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Philosophy and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • First Amendment
  • John Milton
  • John Stuart Mill
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)


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