Original Autonomy Rights

Roger A. Shiner

in Freedom of Commercial Expression

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780198262619
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682353 | DOI:
Original Autonomy Rights

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There are two very powerful antecedent intuitions from normative political morality against constitutional protection for commercial expression. First, freedom of expression has to do with political scientific, or artistic expression, and not with offering products for sale. Second, the primary bearers of the right of freedom of expression are natural persons, but corporations, the prime beneficiaries of freedom of commercial expression, are not natural persons. This chapter considers the claim that freedom of commercial expression is an original autonomy right — that is, a right, a protected normative position some person possesses in some given circumstances, such that possession of it in the given circumstance is normatively justified for reasons of autonomy. Consider the claim that corporate advertising, for example, or corporate labelling practices merit constitutional protection on freedom of expression grounds, because the expressing corporation has an original autonomy right to freedom of commercial expression. Such a claim may immediately be countered by the claim that original autonomy rights accrue only to natural persons, and a corporation is not a natural person.

Keywords: political morality; constitutional protection; commercial expression; freedom of expression; natural persons; corporations; autonomy rights; autonomy

Chapter.  15279 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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