« Philosophy Weblogs | Main | Philosophy: The Classics podcast - over a million downloads! »

February 12, 2009


Matthew Cain

I really don't understand why we in Britain give platforms to people who offend, apologise but trade off their notoriety: http://blog.matthewcain.co.uk/the-limits-of-free-speech/


I'm not sure your analysis provides a satisfactory account of the reasoning behind Wilder's ban. The crudeness of otherwise of his argument (and incidentally I agree, it is crude) would surely not lead to a ban.
The decision is more likely to be political. The Muslim vote is important in the UK.
However, if we rationalise the decision philosophically, we must look at the Harm Principle: the reasoning here might be that Wilder's presence might have a direct causal link to civil disturbance, and consequently damage to property and person.
However, I always consider your excellent point in Arguments for Freedom (A211), paraphrased: The government's role, some might argue, is to protect the free speech and prevent the civil disturbance that follows.



I also read "Arguments for Freedom" while studying with the OU. I seem to recall your interpretation of Mill's famous "corn dealers" passage. Did you not say that the context in which one's views were expressed mattered? I cannot for the life of me see how one could equate the venue of Wilders' proposed showing of "Fitna" - the House of Lords, of all places - with an excited mob, assembled outside someone's house.

You say that "Fitna" is not a balanced documentary treatment. On this point, I think of Mill again, as he laid out his "partly true argument." He said that even if one's "heretical" views are not entirely correct, and let's grant for the sake of argument that this is the case in Wilders' movie, they may still contain parts of a larger truth, "suppressed and neglected truths," which can be revealed through "the rough process of a struggle between combatants fighting under hostile banners."

Finally, I must disagree with your assertion that in Wilders' movie there is no sense that there could be a moderate Muslim. Wilders explicitly states that it is not for him, but for Muslims, to find a way of dealing with the (many!) verses in the Koran advocating violent behaviour. Surely this statement of Wilders' rests on the assumption that it is possible for one to be "a moderate Muslim?"


One point is unavoidable: the Koran definitely sanctions violence and even death upon those who don't accept its message.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Get Virtual Philosopher by email...

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

My Podcasts

My Art and Photography Weblog

Philosophy: The Classics

Philosophy Bites

Ethics Bites