Political protests, debates on college campuses, and social media tirades make it seem like everyone is speaking their minds today. Surveys, however, reveal that many people increasingly feel like they’re walking on eggshells when communicating in public. Speaking your mind can risk relationships and professional opportunities. It can alienate friends and anger colleagues. Isn’t it smarter to just put your head down and keep quiet about controversial topics?
In this book, Hrishikesh Joshi offers a novel defense of speaking your mind. He explains that because we are social creatures, we never truly think alone. What we know depends on what our community knows. And by bringing our unique perspectives to bear upon public discourse, we enhance our collective ability to reach the truth on a variety of important matters.
Speaking your mind is also important for your own sake. It is essential for developing your own thinking. And it’s a core aspect of being intellectually courageous and independent. Joshi argues that such independence is a crucial part of a well-lived life.
The book draws from Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, and a range of contemporary thinkers to argue that it’s OK to speak your mind.
- Shows that we have not just a right but a moral duty to publicly share what we know.
- Argues that discussing your unique ideas with others is essential for developing as a critical thinker.
- Explores the value of intellectual honesty and independence in the writings of John Stuart Mill and Friedrich Nietzsche and connects their thinking to contemporary problems.
- Argues that avoiding cultural blind spots today is important for the fate of future generations.
Table of Contents
- The Epistemic Commons
- A Duty to Speak Your Mind
- Challenges and Temptations
- Developing as a Thinker
- Independence and the Good Life
Hrishikesh Joshi is Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University, and works on moral and political philosophy. He completed his Ph.D. at Princeton University.
"A brilliant exploration of the social nature of good reasoning, and why we don’t just have the right but the duty to share our opinions–especially when they are thoughtful but unpopular. Sadly, this book is needed now more than ever, as surveys indicate that students feel uncomfortable airing their views in public, and social media accounts are scrutinized for cancel-worthy comments in the distant past. Anyone teaching or learning about free speech, public debate, or good reasoning will profit from this work."
Dan Moller, University of Maryland
"Free speech is nice to have, but do you have to take advantage of it? Why not run with the herd and keep your unpopular opinions to yourself? In this compact and compelling book Hrishikesh Joshi argues that you shouldn’t. You have a duty to share your evidence, because it benefits us all. What’s more, speaking your mind is essential for a flourishing human life. If ever a book was timely, this is it. We can all be grateful that Joshi himself chose to speak his mind."
Alex Byrne, MIT
"It’s a familiar lament that the ideals of free speech and free exchange of ideas are in peril; too many people fear harsh economic and social penalties for voicing their opinions. In Joshi’s book, however, cultural critique is not the focus. Rather, his argument is aimed at individuals who are cowed by such fears. "Speak up!", he says. "You have nothing to lose but an unfulfilling life of status seeking and conformity!" If you ever avoid sharing political opinions because you fear the reputational cost, reading Joshi’s excellent book will make you uncomfortable. And it should."
Daniel Greco, Yale University
"A convincing case for standing up and speaking out. Drawing insights from Mill and Nietzsche, he argues that a life well-lived involves intellectual audacity and a willingness to accept personal risk in speaking our mind."
Jonathan Anomaly, University of Pennsylvania