Friday, September 2, 2011

Free speech

"...why in fact do we cherish the right to speak freely?  Because we have become a people with a variety of opinions about all sorts of matters and we do not see why we should not utter them.  We know there are limits to this right, but we know also that these limits have nothing whatever to do with 'truth' and 'error', but only with peace and tranquility.  The proper rationale of free speech, and the limits commonly imposed upon it by liberal-democratic governments, is not the belief that every utterance is a bona fide participation in a search for some one 'truth', but the belief that politics are not concerned with this sort of 'truth' at all.  They are concerned with the cultivation of what from time to time are accepted as the peacable decencies of conduct among men who do not suffer from the Purtian-Jacobin illusion that in practical affairs there is an attainable condition of things called 'truth' or 'perfection.'"

Michael Oakeshott, Religion, Politics, and the Moral Life, The Customer is Never Wrong , page 116
Review of Walter Lippman's The Public Philosophy

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