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Freedom of speech, 1500-1850$
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Robert Ingram, Jason Peacey, and Alex W. Barber

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526147103

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526147110

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Freedom of speech in England and the anglophone world, 1500–1850

Freedom of speech in England and the anglophone world, 1500–1850

(p.1) Chapter 1 Freedom of speech in England and the anglophone world, 1500–1850
Freedom of speech, 1500-1850

Jason Peacey

Robert G. Ingram

Alex W. Barber

Manchester University Press

Amid considerable debate within modern societies about whether or not there ought to be limits to freedom of speech, this introductory chapter argues that historical perspectives have been all too lacking, and all too simplistic. This chapter sets the book in its modern context – in terms of the challenges that have emerged to Western liberalism as a result of religious pluralism and the challenge of hate speech – and highlights the rather simplistic ways in which freedom of speech has conventionally been anchored in ideas and developments that emerged in early modern Britain. It surveys the historiographical debates that have seen this ‘Whiggish’ narrative subjected to critical scrutiny, and sets up the volume by demonstrating both continuity and change across the early modern world. This means recognising the centrality of religious issues as well as secular concerns, and the complex ways in which contemporaries grappled with the theory and practice of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It means acknowledging the complex relationship that existed between regulation, restraint and liberty, and the dynamic interplay that can be observed between rights and duties, truth and error, genre and audience.

Keywords:   freedom of speech, parrhesia, freedom of the press, modernity, historiography, religious disputation, political transparency, rights and duties

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