Is communication a basic human right? An intellectual history

Aliaa I. Dakroury
Mass Communication, Carleton University
July, 2003
 

Abstract

Claims about communication as a basic, available-for-all, and "taken for granted" human right as stated in various declarations raise many problems and controversies in practice, such as hate speech, propaganda, and even claims for publishing criminal diaries and pornography. This study begins with an examination of the nature and context of these various declarations, followed by a provisional conceptualization of the concept 'right. The study then examines the position of different thinkers from Milton, Locke, and Voltaire to Dewey and Habermas. The study concludes that a possible solution for these problems would build on the validity proposed by Jürgen Habermas, where a possible right to communicate would be related to a specific type of communication. This type of right-based communication would be characterized by pureness, truth, and sincerity on the one hand, and the existence of a relative relationship between a claim of a right to send and the responsibility towards receivers on the other.
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