The Most Human Right: Why Free Speech Is Everything

MIT. Apr. 2022. 208p. ISBN 9780262046459. $27.95. LAW
Heinze (law and humanities, Queen Mary, Univ. of London) argues that free speech is the most important human right and that all other rights are dependent on it. He begins with an historical overview that discusses how major thinkers—among them Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius—contributed to the modern construct of what we now call human rights. Much of the book grapples with the meaning of human rights and examines the difference among intrinsic rights, basic human survival needs, and the rights people gain through government management. The text also interrogates the concept of democracy and its relationship to free speech and offers a critical overview of the controversial Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Heinze’s approach reads somewhat like a college lecture, at times tedious in its narrow focus but also thought-provoking and pragmatic in its exploration of such a lofty subject.
VERDICT Best suited for a niche audience of human rights, philosophy, and legal experts who are engaged in high-level work on the topic.
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