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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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Before – and beyond – On Liberty: Samuel Bailey and the nineteenth-century theory of free speech

Before – and beyond – On Liberty: Samuel Bailey and the nineteenth-century theory of free speech

(p.211) Chapter 11 Before – and beyond – On Liberty: Samuel Bailey and the nineteenth-century theory of free speech
Freedom of speech, 1500-1850

Greg Conti

Manchester University Press

In 1829 the Westminster Review, the official journal of Benthamite principles with which both Mills and many other radical luminaries were involved, declared a recent publication to be the ‘second greatest of all comparatively modern books’, after Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Surprisingly, this accolade was directed at a work that has subsequently become unknown: Essays on the Formation and Publication of Opinions by Samuel Bailey. Though forgotten today, Bailey was a celebrated political economist, writer on parliamentary reform, mental philosopher and, above all, champion of toleration and a free press. The Formation and Publication was a vigorous defence of freedom of thought and discussion, and it had a lasting (if now unacknowledged) impact on the way this subject was handled throughout the nineteenth century. This chapter provides the first reconstruction and assessment of Bailey’s theory of intellectual-expressive liberty. In particular, it homes in on four main elements of his thought: (1) his innovative account of social intolerance; (2) his notion of a duty to pursue and speak the truth; (3) his psychological principle of the involuntariness of belief; and (4) his conception of the marketplace of ideas. It also touches on the legacy of Bailey’s theory of free thought and speech in the history of political thought.

Keywords:   John Stuart Mill, Samuel Bailey, social intolerance, belief

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