29 October 2016

Speech and relationships

'Two Rights of Free Speech' (Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 6-37) by Andrei Marmor argues that
the right to freedom of expression is not a single right, complex as it may be, but spans two separate rights that I label the right to speak and the right to hear. Roughly, the right to speak stands for the right of a person to express freely whatever they wish to communicate to some other persons or to the public at large. The right to hear stands for the right to have free and unfettered access to any kind of content that has been communicated by others. The right to speak and the right to hear are two separate rights, grounded in different kinds of interests. Choice and control are central aspects of the right to speak and much less central to the right to hear. I try to show that this division of rights and their respective rationales can be utilized to explain how we think about some of the limits of the right to freedom of expression, particularly in the context of conflicts between the right to speak and the right to hear, conflicts that are rather pervasive. I also argue, though perhaps less conclusively, that in thinking about the limits of freedom of expression, an exclusive focus on the harm principle would be misguided. There is no reason to deny that speech is often harmful, sometimes very much so, but the prevention of harm is not sufficient to justify legal prohibition, at least not in this case.
'Just Relationships' by Hanoch Dagan and Avihay Dorfman in (2016) 116(6) Columbia Law Review comments
Scholars traditionally conceptualize private law around a commitment to the values of formal freedom and equality. Critics of the traditional view (including lawyer-economists) dispute the significance of a distinction between public and private law, construing private law as merely one form of public regulation. Both positions are flawed. The traditional position is conceptually misguided and normatively disap­pointing; the critical position confuses a justified rejection of private law libertarianism with a wholesale dismissal of the idea of a private law, thus denying private law’s inherent value. 
This Article seeks to break the impasse between these two positions by offering an innovative account of the values that should, and to some extent already do, underlie the law of interpersonal interactions among private individuals in a liberal state. Rather than succumbing to the unappealing adherence to formal freedom and equality, private law should openly embrace the liberal commitment to self-determination and substantive equality. A liberal private law establishes frameworks of respectful interaction conducive to self-determining individuals. These frameworks are indispensable for a society in which individuals recognize each other as genuinely free and equal agents.