Philosophy, controversy, and freedom of speech

Peter Singer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Freedom of speech has traditionally been a cause championed by the left and liberal side of the political spectrum, against conservatives who have sought to limit the expression of radical ideas. In fact, the last time I spoke on this subject, about ten years ago, was to receive the Scott Nearing Prize from the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Scott Nearing was a radical economist who advocated reducing the gap between rich and poor. In 1915, he lost his teaching position at the University of Pennsylvania because powerful people at the university and its Wharton School of Business did not share his values and did not want him teaching there. Edgar Smith, the university’s provost at the time, said that academics should not spend their time “meddling in political questions.” Nearing went on to become an advocate of simple living and self-sufficiency on the land. With his wife Helen he wrote Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World.2 Thanks, perhaps, to their vegetarian diet and healthy lifestyle, the couple lived long enough to see their book become a kind of bible among the “back to the land” hippies of the 1970s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Value and Limits of Academic Speech
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophical, Political, and Legal Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781351064491
ISBN (Print)9781351064507
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Philosophy, controversy, and freedom of speech'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this