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Kari Karppinen

Beyond positive and negative paradigms of free speech

Freedom of speech, and associated notions like media freedom and internet freedom, are values that few oppose in principle. Yet their definitions, interpretations and limits are subject to endless contestation both politically and philosophically. The aim of this paper is to introduce some fresh perspectives into conceptual debates on free speech from contemporary political philosophy and democratic theory. Different conceptions of freedom have traditionally been discussed in terms of the established dichotomy of positive and negative concepts of freedom. Beyond these frameworks, this paper reviews the key features an emerging ‘third paradigm of free speech’. The central idea of this paradigm is that freedom is no longer understood as a state that can be unambiguously achieved, or that is attached to any universal, definite conditions of realization. Instead, freedom is increasingly seen always provisional and partial, something that calls for ongoing resistance against a wide range of constraints and limits.


Kari Karppinen is postdoctoral researcher in media and communication studies at the University of Helsinki. His current research focuses on the guiding principles and underlying ideologies of media policy. He is the author of Rethinking Media Pluralism and a number of articles and chapters ranging from conceptual and theoretical discussions to empirical analyses of current media policy trends. He currently works on the project “Changing ideologies of media and communication policy”, funded by the Academy of Finland.

Recent publications:
Karppinen, Kari (2013) Rethinking media pluralism. New York: Fordham University Press.

Karppinen, Kari & Hallvard Moe (2014). What we talk about when we talk about “the market”: Conceptual contestation in contemporary media policy research. Journal of Information Policy 4(2014): 327-341. http://jip.vmhost.psu.edu/ojs/index.php/jip/article/view/185

Karppinen, Kari (2013): Uses of Democratic Theory in Media and Communication Studies. Observatorio (OBS*) journal 7(3):1-17. http://obs.obercom.pt/index.php/obs/article/view/675

Sidansvarig: Christine Forssell|Sidan uppdaterades: 2015-06-30

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