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The EGALIBEX project: freedom of expression and equal participation


Published on January 25, 2022 Updated on January 19, 2024
The EGALIBEX project is led by Scientific Director Charles Girard, associate professor in Philosophy at Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University, within the framework of the 2018 ANR Young Researcher programme (JCJC).

The EGALIBEX research project focuses on the regulation of freedom of expression in liberal democracies. Although philosophy and legal theory have extensively studied the regulation of certain categories of acts of expression (pornography, incitement to racial hatred, apology for terrorism, etc.), much less attention has been paid to the regulation of access to and use of “public forums”, especially in Francophone works. However, these rules pose specific difficulties. Rather than merely restricting freedom of expression in the name of other freedoms or social interests, they seek to reconcile the freedom of expression of some with the freedom of expression of others, so that all holders of this right can participate on an equal footing in public debates. In relation to the internet and new media, these rules today raise legal dilemmas linked to the fight against inequalities in access to expression or access to information. How can the law regulate access to and use of these forums to promote both fairness and rationality in public debate without unduly restricting freedom of expression? Although the law in liberal democracies lays down some general principles, such as equal access, pluralism or the right to information, these principles are generally not sufficiently determined or prioritised to solve the problems faced by judges and legislators. The aim of EGALIBEX is to contribute to the resolution of these dilemmas via the philosophy of law. Its primary objectives are to identify, clarify and evaluate the principles that can guide the democratic regulation of freedom of expression.

This involves:
  • a conceptual analysis of freedom of expression as a democratic right, clarifying the relationship between the individual right to free expression and the structure of public debate;
  • reflecting on the legal implications of political philosophies of democratic debate for the legal regulation of freedom of expression; and
  • performing a comparative study of the principles that establish the right to freedom of expression in France, Europe and the United States.

The EGALIBEX research programme brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the humanities and social sciences (philosophy, law, political science, and information and communication sciences) to perform this work.

Charles Girard is a member of the IRPhiL philosophical research team at Jean Moulin University.