A Kantian Conception of Free Speech

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this paper I provide an interpretation of Kant’s conception of free speech. Free speech is understood as the kind of speech that is constitutive of interaction respectful of everybody’s right to freedom, and it requires what we with John Rawls may call ‘public reason’. Public reason so understood refers to how the public authority must reason in order to properly specify the political relation between citizens. My main aim is to give us some reasons for taking a renewed interest in Kant’s conception of free speech, including his account public reason. Kant’s position provides resources for dealing with many of the legal and political problems we currently struggle to analyze under this heading, such as the proper distinction between the sphere of justice and the sphere of ethics, hate speech, freedom of speech, defamation, and the public guarantee of reliable media and universal education.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFreedom of Expression in a Diverse World
EditorsDeirdre Golash
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789048189991
ISBN (Print)9789048189984
StatePublished - 2010

Publication series

NameAMINTAPHIL: The Philosophical Foundations of Law and Justice


  • freedom of speech
  • Kant on free speech
  • public reason
  • government regulation of speech


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