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Liberalism, feminism and republicanism on freedom of speech: the cases of pornography and racist hate speech

Power Febres, C.; (2011) Liberalism, feminism and republicanism on freedom of speech: the cases of pornography and racist hate speech. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The central issue tackled in this thesis is whether there is room for legitimate restrictions upon pornography and extreme right political organisations' racist hate speech; whether such restrictions can be made without breaching generally accepted liberal rights and within a democratic context. Both these forms of speech, identified as 'hard cases' in the literature, are presented as problems that political theorists should be concerned with. This concern stems from the increase in these forms of speech but also due to their mainstreaming in society. In this thesis the republican conception of freedom as non-domination is explored as a more suitable account than the liberal one of freedom as non-interference, when dealing with these two forms of speech. In addition, the neo-Roman republican view is aligned with anti-pornography radical feminism. This alignment aids in releasing the feminist position from a liberal framework; thereby reducing the burden of proof relating to harms derived from pornography that this position has been subjected to. Liberalism's view of freedom of speech as a pre-political right leaves very limited room for restrictions to be made upon speech. The republican view of freedom as non-domination, meanwhile, means that restrictions need not be viewed as a breach of the right of freedom of speech. In addition, liberals argue that the most these forms of speech can cause is offence. By taking republican ideas of equality and respect for the democratic citizen, and anti-pornography radical feminist accounts of performative speech acts and grievances to individuals as part of a group, it is shown that not only can these forms of speech do more than offend, they can, in fact, dominate, in instances of individuals feeling subordinate. The theoretical work is illustrated through looking at two real world cases, Spain. a liberal state, and Finland, a republican state.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Liberalism, feminism and republicanism on freedom of speech: the cases of pornography and racist hate speech
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Political Science

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