Title: Critiques of the pursuit of truth as a justificatory theory of free speech

Authors: Twana A. Hassan

Addresses: TC Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia

Abstract: The justificatory theory of the pursuit of truth claims that free speech should be protected despite its potential harmful consequences because it facilitates the marketplace of ideas for pursuing truth. This article is a critical examination of this theory. It finds that: 1) the theory does not distinguish between the apparent utility of free speech and the intrinsic value of free speech as a form of freedom; 2) it does not consider free speech as an end in itself. By considering free speech as a means, it implies that whatever external utility justifies the protection of free speech can also justify its restriction; 3) the theory is partially based on an illusionary marketplace of ideas without realising the potential deficiency, inefficiency, and inequality in expressive opportunities in any possible marketplace of ideas. Therefore, the theory cannot provide a coherent framework for both the justification and the limit of free speech.

Keywords: free speech; human rights; marketplace of ideas; free speech limitations; justification; pursuit of truth; freedom; truth discovery; utility; intrinsic value.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2015.070610

International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, 2015 Vol.3 No.2, pp.171 - 180

Received: 04 May 2015
Accepted: 04 May 2015

Published online: 11 Jul 2015 *

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