Traditionally, freedom of expression has been identified with freedom of speech: roughly, intentional communication of cognitive attitudes. However, many significant forms of self-expression do not constitute speech in that sense. These include behaviors which manifest, or make intelligible, a person’s practical identities, such as gender, religious, sexual, or cultural identities. I aim to develop a novel account and defense of free expression which foregrounds these kinds of self-expression. More specifically, I defend freedom of self-expression on the grounds that expressive freedom is a necessary condition or constituent of interpersonal relationships we have reason to value in themselves. In particular, these include relationships of authenticity and recognition. One implication of this view is that many forms of self-expression, ranging from gender policing to hairstyle discrimination, qualify for heightened protection from collective interference in virtue of being expressive even when they don’t constitute speech in the traditional sense.
A more extensive description of this project, including chapter-by-chapter abstracts, is available on request.