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Speaker Series: Speech and Freedom 7 PM


Speech and Freedom

Professors Thomas Cushman and Mary Kate McGowan
Wellesley College Club

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Professor Cushman will talk about the age-old question that has been asked, in one form or another, in every society: who gets to speak and what do they get to say?  Much of the discussion on college campuses these days deals with this question and conflicts have emerged over the normative and legal limits to free speech. At times, the conflicts are quite protracted, not only because free speech is almost always the source of controversy and social change. In academic settings, there are very good arguments for allowing maximal and virtually unlimited free speech, but there are also very good arguments for why speech should be limited when speakers can be shown to do harm to listeners.

Professor McGowan will discuss how communication can be thwarted in a variety of (systematic) ways.  One can be prevented from attempting to communicate so that one refrains from speaking; one might attempt to communicate but fail to be entirely successful because others misinterpret you in important ways; or, one might succeed in communicating but one's speech fails to have some of the post-communicative effects that it ought to have.


Thomas Cushman is Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and Director of The Freedom Project at Wellesley College. His books have focused on a wide range of topics, all of which can be characterized by a common theme of freedom and its repression in human societies: cultural dissidence in Russia, genocide, propaganda, freedom of expression, and the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Iraq. In 2001, he founded and is currently editor-at-large of the Journal of Human Rights.  He is the editor of The Handbook of Human Rights (Routledge, 2011), a standard reference work, which presents 60 original essays across the disciplines on all areas of human rights. His current book-in-progress is, Why Free Speech Matters. 

Mary Kate McGowan is the Margaret Clapp ‘30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College.  She received her Ph.D. from Princeton in 1996.  She works in met

aphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, and feminism. She is the co-editor, with Ishani Maitra, of Speech and Harm: Controversies Over Free Speech (OUP, 2009) and the author of the forthcoming, Just Words: Speech and the Covert Constitution of Harm (OUP).

To register: 

call (781) 283-0417, ext. 2; or

click Register (above, right.)
Let us know if you need a ride.


This event is open to WN members and their guests.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 7:00 PM
Wellesley College Club

Joyce Wadlington
Speaker Series
Registration is recommended
No Fee
No Fee