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Trevor Pearce

The phrase "market place of ideas" seems to have been common in the USA in the 1920s (well before 1935), but the only pre-1919 use I can find is this one in a novel by H. G. Wells: https://bit.ly/3JWz7rw


Out of curiosity I took Harry Kalven's big book on free speech in the US (_A Worthy Tradition_ - I have read only very small parts of it)off my shelf, and looked to see if he discussed Mill or the "marketplace" metaphor. "Marketplace of ideas" doesn't get an index entry or a subject heading in the table of contents, and isn't directly discussed (or the term used) in the 6 or 7 or so mentions of Mill in the book. There is one interesting passage, maybe of some slight relevance here, though, where Kalven says,

"There is a striking difference now apparent between the incidences of the problems in the American constitutional experience under the First Amendment and their salience in a philosophical discussion of free speech such as John Stuart Mill's _On Liberty_. For Mill, the great issues were those presented by radically unpopular doctrines such as disbelief in God, and the central thrust of his argument was against the censorship of false or unsound doctrine. Almost casually he concedes that at some point of proximity a speech inciting a mob is within the reach of the law. If we lay the American legal experience against such a map of the issues, the contrast is startling. We have experienced almost no efforts to suppress false doctrine and have virtually taken for granted that there can be no censorship on that premise. But the law has been centrally preoccupied with the problem of speech inciting to violence, which to the philosopher must seem like a fringe issue."

(I'm not 100% sure I'd agree with this account of what has been controversial in free speech doctrine in the US, but thought the claim was interesting in any case, even if only partly or indirectly relevant to the discussion above.)

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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