Free Speech: Freedom, Speech, and Society

March 15, 2019 - March 16, 2019
Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Gulf Coast University

Department of Communication and Philosophy, Florida Gulf Coast University, 105801 FGCU Blvd So
Fort Myers 33965-6565
United States


Florida Gulf Coast University

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Freedom, Speech, and Society


Florida Gulf Coast University

March 15-16, 2019

Call for Papers

 KEYNOTE: Alexander Brown (University of East Anglia) []

The philosophy program at Florida Gulf Coast University invites submissions for our upcoming conference entitled “Freedom, Speech, and Society,” to be held March 15-16, 2019.  We welcome papers from diverse academic starting points (e.g., history, sociology, ethical theory, social political theory, jurisprudence, philosophy, sociology, etc.) and from other disciplines involved in related inquiries.


Conference Description

One of the most valuable yet hotly contested ideas found in liberal democracies concerns free speech. Over the course of the past few years, debates regarding the value, role, and potential limits of free speech have intensified globally. In the United States alone, the subject has had a polarizing effect on the public sphere, from controversies over the national anthem in professional sports, to debates about alt-right rallies on college campuses.Such controversies, both past and present, have helped generate a variety of arguments on the topic, from those that protect free speech regardless of content to more content-sensitive arguments that draw on competing constitutional values as reasons for limiting some speech.  Within academia, these arguments tend to be technical and focus almost exclusively on the legality of free speech and its constitutional protection.  Moreover, general public debates tend to mirror academic discussions, i.e. with much of the focus on the constitutional protection and value of free speech.

Without minimizing the importance of the arguments offered for and against free speech, we believe there is an opportunity to widen and expand the discussion on the subject beyond just its legal and political dimensions.  Approaching the subject of free speech from a wider framework that incorporates insights from history, sociology, political theory, law, and moral philosophy can greatly benefit ongoing discussions and add an intersectional lens to the debate.  This involves addressing questions concerning, among other things, the historical development of free speech, its sociological impact on various interest groups, as well as its relationship to other constitutional values. It will also involve an analysis of the concept of free speech as such, and in its development through broader moral and political philosophy.

Possible topics of exploration include:

* Historical analysis of the development of free speech through democratic societies.  

* The relationship of free speech to other constitutionally protected rights, including freedom of religion, association, and freedom from discrimination.  

* How various concepts of freedom relate to the doctrine of free speech.  

* Whether speech can be neatly separated from force, violence, or coercion.

* What value free speech might have for various groups within the state, in particular non-liberal groups.

* Freedom as a moral value and its philosophical development.

* Free speech and the public sphere: Religion, Sports, and Classrooms.

Instructions for Submissions

To submit, please send a detailed abstract of 500-750 words prepared for blind review to In the body of your email, please include your name, your university affiliation, a brief bio, and contact information. Abstract submissions are due by December 20, 2018.

Registration and Travel Information

The campus of Florida Gulf Coast University is located just 10 minutes by car from Southwest Florida International Airport, making air travel to our campus very easy. Further information about travel for conference participants will be available on our program website: There is no registration fee for the conference. The event is free and open to the public.


Contact Information

Please send any questions you might have to Dr. Mohamad Al-Hakim ( or Dr. Miles Hentrup (

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Custom tags:

#Freedom, #Speech, #Political/Social/Legal, #History of Free Speech, #Sociology and Free Speech, #Language, #Rights