© Gilles Dacquin
© Gilles Dacquin

Monique Canto-Sperber is Director of Research at the National Center for Scientific Research. She served for several years as Director of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and as President of Paris Sciences et Lettres. She is the author of several books, translated into several languages, on Greek philosophy, ethics and political philosophy. Among them are Le Dictionnaire d’Ethique et de Philosophie Morale (1996, 4th ed., 2004), Les Règles de la Liberté (2003), Naissance et Liberté (2008), La Morale du Monde (2010), L’Idée de Guerre Juste (2010) and Sans Foi Ni Loi (2015).



Freedom of speech

Freedom of speech lies at the heart of the liberal state. It requires that every citizen be entitled to freely express his or her opinions, however irrational, outrageous or immoral these opinions may be. The rationales of such fundamental freedom are many, but they all carry limitations which makes its defense plausible. For example, those who argue that freedom of speech conveys the respect due to the individual must acknowledge that it could be used in such a way as to exert a prejudice towards other people, therefore appropriate limitations are required. That is the common understanding of freedom of speech. Nevertheless, elements of contemporary culture, linked mainly to the formation of opinions and beliefs, seem to shed a different light on this value and the ways it could be defined. Can we go along with the traditional concept of freedom of speech which constitutes the liberal state? Or should we reconsider?

Time: 7 pm
Location: Cultural Services of the French Embassy / Ballroom