Author Archives: Simone Chambers

Manuscript Workshop: A.J. Julius, “Reconstruction”

Manuscript Workshop Announcement: A. J. Julius, “Reconstruction”

The University of Toronto Centre for Ethics will be hosting a workshop on A. J. Julius’s manuscript “Reconstruction” on Friday, June 6, from 11 to 6. There will be comments by Niko Kolodny, Véronique Munoz-Dardé, and Arthur Ripstein, along with replies by the author.

The manuscript (which participants are expected to read in advance) can be found at Space is limited; please confirm your attendance by writing to, where you may also direct questions.

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The Value of Equality Workshop


Download the Program PDF here.

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Brettschneider Reading Group: Chapter Three, Democratic Persuasion and the Freedom of Expression

The main challenge of chapter 3 is to explain and defend the view that while the state is permitted (indeed required) to engage in democratic persuasion aimed at producing reflective revision (i.e., talk people out of certain illiberal views) it may not use coercion to make people into liberals. More particularly the state must respect strong First Amendment protections on speech.

Corey’s first step in meeting this challenge is to explain why he is so adamantly attached to the First Amendment and viewpoint neutrality. At first sight one might think that he would be hostile toward neutrality. On the one hand, value democracy rejects neutrality as a starting point and embraces substantive values as foundational. On the other hand, Corey is clearly very worried about the presence of hate groups and speech that target the free and equal status of individuals. So why not join the very large group of theorists, not to mention actual democracies, who conclude that the state is not obligated to protect hate speech and indeed has a positive duty to eradicate hate speech? Corey declines the invitation. Instead he maintains that although the state does have an obligation to try and eradicate hate speech, that obligation goes hand in hand with the obligation to protect hate speech from infringement.

He begins then by arguing that value democracy has non- neutral reasons for endorsing viewpoint neutrality in the protection of speech. The state must respect the independent judgment of each and every individual (including Nazis): “protecting the right of free speech for Klan members acknowledges their entitlement to be treated as free and equal citizens in spite of their beliefs” P. 85. But then the next question is – doesn’t democratic persuasion aimed at reflective revision also fail to respect the independent judgment of the hateful citizen? Here Corey introduces the very important distinction between the coercive and expressive capacities of the state. Banning or criminalizing certain speech is coercive. But expressing the underlying reasons why we protect even bad speech is not coercive even though such expression is ideally aimed at changing minds through reflective revision.

Corey needs to show that democratic persuasion is not coercive and so he introduces two limitations to the states expressive role. The first is a means-based limit that stipulates that no fundamental rights including rights to free speech may be violated in pursuing democratic persuasion. The second is a substance-based limitation. Here the state may target beliefs that violate the ideal of free and equal citizenship only. There may be many beliefs that pose threats to the liberal order if they became widely adopted or believed. But the state should not be in the business of comprehensive soul crafting.

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