Archive for February 22nd, 2015

February 22, 2015

Marketplace of Ideas

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The ‘marketplace of ideas’ is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The ‘marketplace of ideas’ belief holds that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse. This concept is often applied to discussions of patent law as well as freedom of the press and the responsibilities of the media in a liberal democracy.

The general idea is that free speech should be tolerated because it will lead toward the truth. English poet John Milton suggested that restricting speech was not necessary because ‘in a free and open encounter,’ truth would prevail. President Thomas Jefferson argued that it is safe to tolerate ‘error of opinion … where reason is left free to combat it.’ Journalism professor Fredrick Siebert echoed the idea that free expression is self-correcting in ‘Four Theories of the Press’: ‘Let all with something to say be free to express themselves. The true and sound will survive. The false and unsound will be vanquished. Government should keep out of the battle and not weigh the odds in favor of one side or the other.’ 

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