The Philosophy of the Freedom of Expression: Speech and Press Examined Philosophically and Implemented Legally
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The First Amendment to the Constitution explicitly protects the rights to five things: speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly. Of those five, two of these, the freedoms of speech and press, have been hotly contested and polemicized over the course of the last century. With the advent of wholly new forms of communication and the increased accessibility of information these two freedoms have become especially important. As such, a discussion of where these freedoms find their source and justification is very relevant and worthy of discussing. Furthermore, an examination of what these freedoms should be would be incomplete without an examination of case law to determine whether or not the ideals of the freedoms of speech and press are actually manifest in our society. This inquiry is the purpose of this two part paper. Over the course of the first section I will be discussing the philosophical justifications for the freedoms of speech and press by examining the works of four famous philosophers and the arguments they made in relation to these freedoms. The paper itself will be divided into seven sections. In the first four sections following this one I will give summations of the arguments of each author in the chronological order of their writing. In these summations I shall briefly present the arguments and ideas in their writings that most clearly demonstrate their positions on the freedoms of speech and press. I will address them in this order: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, and then Immanuel Kant. Following explanation of these positions I will present a list of five derived principles from their writings with explanations from where the justifications for each principle come and their associated author. This will provide a basis for understanding some philosophical history of the freedoms of speech and press and how this philosophy may translate into application and practice by principle, as well as explain potential sources and justifications for these freedoms. In the second section of this paper I will engage in a survey and analysis of both American and British jurisprudence. I shall do this by providing case briefs of landmark cases relating to the topic at hand, ordered country and then chronologically. This section will then close with a conclusory set of remarks summarizing and critically analyzing whether or not the examined jurisprudence is actually reflective of the principles presented at the end of Section I.