Can saying something make it so? The nature of seditious harm
In this paper, I redress an analytic deficit in debates about sedition by providing an explanatorily account of the relation between speech and action using speech act theory as developed by J.L. Austin. The specific focus will be on speech acts advocating violence against the state, in the form of religious sermons preaching violent jihad or glorifying acts of terrorism. This philosophical account will have legal consequences for how we classify speech acts deemed to be dangerous, or to cause harm. It also suggests that because speech can constitute action or conduct in certain circumstances, sedition laws, in principle, might be defensible, but not in their current form.