Recent critiques of the "marketplace of ideas" theory of free speech have noted inherent shortcomings with this system, namely:

  1. People do not have equal ability to spread their ideas in the marketplace, and certain people are able to amplify their ideas to a much greater extent than others (Paper).
  2. The marketplace can at times promulgate bad or false ideas faster than real information (Study).

Considering that the marketplace of ideas has only been a prominent part of US free speech theory for 100 years or so (Abrams v. United States (1919)), are there modern theories that attempt to rectify the shortcomings of this theory, especially accounting for the rise in digital media?

  • When you say "theories of free speech", what specifically do you mean? The marketplace of ideas is typically understood to be a utilitarian argument in favor of allowing free speech, not an empirical theory explaining how it works in practice. Are you looking for arguments that justify free speech or explanations of how free speech works? – Joe 22 hours ago
  • For the purpose of this question, I'd summarize the marketplace of ideas concept as: "we theorize / observe that ideas compete as in a free market so that over time the best ideas emerge and spread the most. Based on this core assumption, we argue that free speech should be allowed because bad ideas will be outcompeted and because a diversity of ideas allows for a better solution more of the time." Essentially, an empirical theory as backing for a utilitarian argument. – DerekG 6 hours ago
  • So I'd like an answer that expresses either a different empirical theory accounting for the observations listed in the question, an argument for an alternative realization of free speech, or some combination of the two – DerekG 6 hours ago
  • Fascinating question! I wonder if philosophy.stackexchange.com might have a different take. – frеdsbend 1 hour ago

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