Intellectual Trust and the Marketplace of Ideas

In Michael P. Lynch & Allesandra Tanesini (eds.), Polarization, Arrogance, and Dogmatism: Philosophical Perspectives (2021)
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Here is a familiar liberal argument: just as it can be beneficial to establish a marketplace, in which producers of goods freely compete for the custom of consumers, it can be beneficial to establish a “marketplace of ideas,” in which defenders of ideas freely compete for the acceptance of those ideas by others. This paper is about the preconditions for the proper functioning of liberal marketplaces, and of marketplaces of ideas in particular. I will argue that, just as the proper functioning of marketplaces, in general, requires certain kinds of mutual trust among their participants, the proper functioning of marketplaces of ideas requires certain kinds of mutual trust – which I unite under the heading of “intellectual trust” – among their participants. I apply this conclusion to one problem for the familiar liberal argument, the problem of offensive speech, by arguing that intellectual trust can partially mitigate the harms of offensive speech.

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Allan Hazlett
Washington University in St. Louis


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