Speech, Crime, and the Uses of Language


Speech, Crime, and the Uses of Language



In this book Greenawalt explores the three-way relationship between the idea of freedom of speech, the law of crimes, and the many uses of language. He begins by considering free speech as a political principle, and after a thorough and incisive analysis of the justifications commonly advanced for freedom of speech, looks at the kinds of communications to which the principle of free speech applies. He then turns to an examination of communications for which criminal liability is fixed. Focusing on threats and solicitations to crime, Greenawalt attempts to determine whether liability for such communications seriously conflicts with freedom of speech. In the second half of the book he goes on to develop the significance of his conclusions for American constitutional law, addressing such questions as what should be considered "speech" within the meaning of the First Amendment, and what tests the courts should employ in deciding whether particular criminal statutes should be held constitutional. He concludes that the issues are too complex to yield simple solutions, and insists that the protection of the First Amendment can be reduced neither to one justification nor to one all-purpose test of coverage.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


New York, NY


"The topics Greenawalt presents are interesting and have much relevance in today's times.... The ideas are good and refreshing."
The Annals of the American Academy of Political Science

"So long as someone like Kent Greenawalt is at the scales there is no reason to fear that free speech will be balanced lightly away; Greenawalt's earnest concern for free speech shines through in every case he considers."
Constitutional Commentary


Also available as an eBook through the Columbia University Libraries.


Arts and Humanities | Comparative and Foreign Law | Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | First Amendment | History of Philosophy | Jurisprudence | Law | Law and Philosophy | Philosophy

Speech, Crime, and the Uses of Language

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