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Theories on the Relationship bewteen Freedom of Speech, Expression and Democracy

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Theories on the relationship between freedom of speech, expression and democracy can be critically assessed through the comparative and contrasting of Alexander Meiklejohn (1948) and Jürgen Habermas’s (1964) views in their published works. ‘The Town hall’ theory as outlined by Meiklejohn (1948, p.22) and ‘The Public Sphere’ theory as outlined by Habermas (1964, p.49) have similarities in relation to expression and democracy such as the mutual agreement they have on realizing you cannot achieve democracy unless all individuals are valued as equals. Similarly they both acknowledge the created space for unabridged political discussion and an individual being able to express their opinion. Furthermore the similarity in both theories of individuals being self governed and not controlled by the state will also be analyzed. However in recognizing these similarities there are also limitations on both theories in which the restriction of an individual being autonomous will be addressed.
The first similarity between Meiklejohn (1948) and Habermas (1964) is in relation to the created forum for discussion in which a free man is able to attend. As Meiklejohn notes (1948, p. 22) ‘Every man is free to come…They meet as political equals’. Meiklejohn is implying that each and every individual is allowed to come to a place of mutual agreement in which a subject matter that is of public interest will be debated. Further more when a free man is in attendance at the town hall meeting he is every bit a part of the political system as the other men in attendance. The public sphere is a place in which people can express their opinion in a social setting where private people come together in the form of what is known as the public sphere Habermas (196...


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...risons it is evident the flaws as well if an individual wants to be autonomous because there are restrictions



Works Cited

Habermas, J., Lennox, S., and F, Lennox (1964) “The public sphere: and encyclopedia article” New German Critique, No. 3 (Autumn 1974), pp. 49 – 55.

Kellner, D 2000, ‘Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention”, in Edwin Hahn, L ‘Perspectives on Habermas’, Open Court, Chicago and La Salle, Illinois, pp.259-289.

Meiklejohn, A 1948, Free Speech and its Relation to Self-Government, Harper Brothers, pp. 16 – 27

Redish, H.Martin & Mollen, Abbie Marie 2009, ‘Understanding post’s and Meiklejohn’s mistakes: The central role of adversary democracy in the theory of free expression’, Northwestern University Law Review, pp. 1303-1306

Schaurer, F 1982, Free Speech: a philosophic enquiry, Cambridge University Press, pp. 40 – 44



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