Speech and Reciprocity: A Theory of the First Amendment

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Existing rationales for the Speech Clause of the First Amendment
emphasize the roles free speech performs in a democracy:
generating truth through competition among ideas; protecting individuals
by exposing government mischief, respecting the autonomy
of citizens to form their own beliefs; and protecting minority
citizens against the majority. While these accounts are useful, an
additional benefit offree speech has so far been overlooked. This
Article argues that free speech also promotes reciprocity-the disposition
of citizens to engage in cooperative behavior with each
other for mutual benefit. Reciprocity is a resource that allows
people to overcome collective action dilemmas and achieve their
goals. It therefore improves individual and collective productivity.
Accordingly, freedom of speech does not merely protect certain
democratic principles. It also enhances the quality of individual
and collective life. In addition to setting out the ways in which free
speech promotes reciprocity, the Article uses the theory to account
for some specific First Amendment doctrines. The Article also explores
some implications for First Amendment law.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-452
JournalConnecticut Law Review
StatePublished - 2002


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