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Cover Introducing Political Philosophy

3. Hate Speech and Freedom of Expression  

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter assesses when, if ever, a state should restrict hate speech. Political disputes about this topic are part of broader disagreements about the limits of freedom of expression. The chapter makes a case for restricting hate speech when, and on the grounds that, it incites or makes more likely harm to particular members of society. It considers whether some familiar justifications for freedom of expression provide a persuasive case against this view, exploring arguments that appeal to autonomy, individual interests in expression, and the dangers of granting the state regulatory power. None of these justifications supports the protection of hate speech. The chapter then sketches the kinds of hate speech legislation that these arguments justify.