Leslie Green, "Right Speech"

Freedom of speech protects speech that is, for example, offensive. But having the right to offend does not give anyone a reason to offend others. How we should speak is a matter for the norms that govern speaking, not the norms that govern responses to speaking. It is a matter of what it is right to do, not a matter of what rights we have. So: what norms should govern us in speaking? Most Western traditions give little attention to this, apart from the prohibition on lying. Classical Buddhist thought, in contrast, offers a well-developed doctrine of ‘right speech’. In this Lecture, Professor Green will explore that doctrine, give it a partial defense, and suggest ways that right speech can and should be supported while remaining faithful to the principles of free speech.

Leslie Green is Professor of the Philosophy of Law at the University of Oxford.

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