This article looks at liberalism as a political tradition encompassing competing and, at times, incommensurable values. It looks in particular at the potential conflict between the values of free speech and equal respect. Both of these are foundational values for liberalism, in the sense that they arise as normative ideals from the very inception of the liberal tradition itself. Yet from the perspective of this tradition, it is by no means clear which of these values should be prioritized in those instances where they come into conflict. This article insists that the only way these two values can be meaningfully weighed against each other is if their competition can be understood within the broader framework of liberalism and democracy. Within this broader framework it is possible to find criteria which enable us to choose between these values in a non-circular manner — i.e. in ways which do not already presuppose a commitment to the value we wish to support.
Philosophy and Social Criticism Vol. 34, Issue 9, p. 987-1020