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Freedom of Communicative Action


Lawrence B. Solum


Georgetown University Law Center


Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 83, Nos. 1 & 2, pp. 54-135, 1989
Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 08-06

Abstract:     
The thesis of "Freedom of Communicative Action" is that Jurgen Habermas's theory of communicative action illuminated the deep structure of the First Amendment freedom of speech. Haberams's theory takes speech act theory as its point of departure. Communicative action coordinates indivudal behavior through rational understanding. Communicative action is distinguished from strategic action--the use of communication to manipulate, deceive, or coerce.

Part I offers an introduction. Part II outlines a hermeneutic approach to interpretation of the First Amendent. Part III explores and criticizes existing theories of the freedom of speech. Part IV explicates Habermas's theory of communicative action. Part V developes a theory of the freedom of expression based on Habermas's theory of communication. Part VI applies that theory to particular problems in free speech doctrine. Part VII draws some conclusions about the implications of this exercise for the development of doctrine and the theory of communicative action.

"Freedom of Communicative Action" was published in 1989, and some of the views expressed in the article are no longer affirmed by the author.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 83

Keywords: constitution, constitutional theory, constitutional interpretation, hermeneutics, speech act, Gadamer, Habermas, communicative action, communication, first amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, free speech

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Date posted: May 24, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Solum, Lawrence B., Freedom of Communicative Action. Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 83, Nos. 1 & 2, pp. 54-135, 1989; Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 08-06. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1134524

Contact Information

Lawrence B. Solum (Contact Author)
Georgetown University Law Center ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
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