Volume 32, Issue 1, Spring 2018
Mill and the Limits of Freedom of Expression
Truth, Lies, and Harm
The rise of fake news, climate change denial, and the anti-vaccination movement all pose important challenges to contemporary views about freedom of expression. This paper attempts to delineate the limits of freedom of expression, specifically with regard to truth, lies, and harm. My strategy is to offer a critical reading of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty to demonstrate its enduring relevance to contemporary issues in the freedom of expression. My critical reading of Mill provides guidance on when state interference is justified, the role of education, the nature of harm in the age of mass media and globalisation, and the relevance of truth and lies in the freedom of expression. Ultimately, I demonstrate that the Millian account I present can deal adequately with contemporary issues in the freedom of expression in line with the current social context, relevant empirical facts, and our considered judgements.