For several years now, I have been a regular listener to Nigel Warburton’s and David Edmonds’ podcast series, Philosophy Bites. It–along with Alan Saunders’ Philosopher’s Zone from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a few other podcasts–exemplifies what I love about the medium. Programming, whether originally aired on the radio or born digital, can reach out and find its audience unencumbered by geographic location, broadcast scheduling, or other factors. Or maybe I should say, audiences can reach out and find programming unencumbered by their locations or the vagaries of personal schedules.
In either case, having enjoyed Philosophy Bites so much, I was very pleased when Warburton and Edmonds agreed to do Ethics Bites, a series of 14 podcasts on applied ethics for the Open University.
The ethical issue most of interest to this blog is, of course, Free Speech. To establish the importance of free speech and its limits, Nigel Warburton speaks with Tim Scanlon, the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard. The 17-minute discussion both lays out the issues entailed in free speech and gives Professor Scanlon’s position on those issues. I can’t imagine a more concise and easy to comprehend introduction to the topic.
I also think Professor Scanlon merits the attention of librarians because he moves the defense of free speech from a grounding in individual rights to “a more nuanced view — which takes into account the interests of both speaker and listener, and empirical considerations about the danger of granting powers of regulation to the state.” The dialog touches on areas of political speech, offensive speech, hate speech, and pornography, all of which easily migrate from the public square to the library.
Recordings and transcripts of Ethic Bites: Free Speech can be found here. These podcasts and a wealth of others can also be found through iTunes.