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Hate Speech and the Distribution of the Costs and Benefits of Freedom of Speech

Chapter in book
Authors David Brax
Published in Blurring the Lines, Market-Driven and Democracy-Driven Freedom of Expression - Maria Edström, Andrew T. Kenyon & Eva-Maria Svensson (eds.)
Pages 185-192
ISBN 978-91-87957-36-9
Publisher Nordicom
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2016
Published at Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 185-192
Language en
Links www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/fi...
Keywords hate, speech, consequentialism, fair distribution, free speech, liberalism, deliberative democracy, speech regulation
Subject categories Law and Society, Practical philosophy

Abstract

This chapter presents a broadly consequentialist argument in favour of hate speech regulations. The argument proceeds in two steps: First by exploring the familiar point that hate speech does harm by undermining the speech of targeted groups. And second, by considering the distribution of costs and benefits for allowing hate speech, which is unlikely to be fair or equal. The harm caused by hate speech primarily befalls people that are already among the worst off in our society. According to the principle that costs and benefits that befall those worst off matter more, morally speaking - a view known as ‘prioritarianism’ or ‘the priority view’ - distribution matters. I argue that this approach offers the most plausible argument in favour of hate speech regulations. Hate speech should only be unregulated if the predicted benefits are likely to outweigh the predicted costs, when the distribution of costs and benefits is also taken into account. It should be unregulated only if the predicted benefits are likely to outweigh the predicted costs, and the distribution of costs and benefits is also taken into account.

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