Living Up to and Under Norms
14 Pages Posted: 19 May 2017
Date Written: May 19, 2017
This essay reviews Seana Shiffrin’s Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law.
Speech Matters is a collection of essays on a wide range of topics, such as the value of free speech, the wrongfulness of lying, the ethics of communication, and the nature of professional responsibilities. According to Shiffrin, the essays in Speech Matters build on common themes while retaining “rough independence” from each other. That said, several ideas inform Speech Matters and run throughout Shiffrin’s other major works. Part I describes the way that these ideas are utilized in Speech Matters. Part II identifies a distinctive insight that Shiffrin makes in Speech Matters and elsewhere. Put briefly, Shiffrin envisions a crucial difference between the standards for living up to legal, political, and moral norms and the expectations that are appropriate of those who live under such norms. Shiffrin’s position, roughly encapsulated, is that living up to legal and political norms requires a kind of allegiance, while legal, moral, and political principles preclude the state or others from demanding or expecting such allegiance. Shiffrin’s insights in Speech Matters apply far beyond the topics discussed in the book.
Keywords: free speech, norms, Speech Matters, Shiffrin
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