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Censorship, Authority, Control

Bishop, Sebastien; (2021) Censorship, Authority, Control. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Should the government engage in the censorship of materials that it fears will be dangerously persuasive? In other words, should the government appeal to persuasion-mediated harms, when seeking to justify the regulation of speech? While many register a deep unease with this kind of censorship, typically it is conceded that such censorship is justified when the harms in question are imminent. What about when this is not the case? Several highly influential philosophical accounts propose that this kind of censorship would conflict with our core democratic values, and that the government engages in such regulation at the cost of undermining its own democratic legitimacy. The primary aim of this thesis is to investigate whether these democracy-based worries can be cashed-out in a way that is both philosophically rigorous and somewhat broadly appealing. Several approaches to problematizing this kind of censorship are rejected. The thesis argues that despite the alarmist language sometimes deployed by philosophers, this kind of censorship need not involve a special interference with the autonomous capacities of citizens. Similarly, it is argued that philosophers have been hasty in dismissing this kind of censorship as insulting, or as constituting a case of unfair viewpoint discrimination. On both counts, it is argued that censorship can be defended through reflecting on the duties that autonomous agents owe to one another. The thesis concludes that the most productive way of problematising the democratic objection to censorship, is through reflecting on the kind of government-citizen relationship that such censorship establishes. The thesis draws on the insights of relational, feminist theories of autonomy – offered by the likes of Catriona Mackenzie and Marina Oshana – as well as Republican theories of domination, to help better understand the way in which censorship warps and changes the government-citizen relationship.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Censorship, Authority, Control
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136248
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