You Are Not An Experience
Date Written: 30/04/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20775
A growing number of intellectuals are arguing that free speech needs to be subordinated to the goal of protecting the feelings of people who don't want to hear views that they find threatening. They are wrong.
Ulrich Baer argues that the so-called "liberal snowflakes" are actually right, that free speech should be sacrificed in the name of securing the legitimacy of personal experience. He is mistaken, but worth taking seriously.
Baer goes on to argue that there are good philosophical reasons for rejecting free speech in favor of personal testimony and narrative. According to the cultural shift he suggests took place in the late 20th century, "personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument." Where many are understandably "wary of the privileging of personal experience, with its powerful emotional impact, over reason and argument," Baer argues that the elevated importance of personal experience is founded upon good philosophical arguments.