Anniversary Lecture Series: Professor Rae Langton

For the second lecture in our 150th Anniversary series, Prof Rae Langton interrogates the role that free speech plays in a modern democracy. 

“What is the role of free speech in a democracy? That is a controversial question, but an important one. We have seen some profound abuses of free speech in recent times, often based on a flawed answer to that question—abuses which can silence women’s voices, and damage democracy. We need think much harder about speech, and about freedom, and how we might all have a part to play, in making free speech real.” 

Prof Rae Langton is a philosopher, with a particular interest in speech, speech acts and social justice.

Rae Langton has been Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, and Fellow of Newnham, since September 2013. In 2017 Rae Langton was elected to be the Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy. The Knightbridge chair was founded in 1683 by John Knightbridge, Fellow of Peterhouse. It has been held by many eminent Cambridge philosophers, including Henry Sidgwick, who founded Newnham College in 1871.

Rae was born and raised in India. She was educated in India (Hebron School, 1966-79), Australia (Sydney, BA Hons. 1986), and the USA (Princeton, PhD 1995). Rae has taught philosophy in Australia, Scotland, the USA, and England.

Rae was Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1999-2004. Rae was Professor of Philosophy at MIT from 2004-2013. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, and to the British Academy in 2014. Rae was one of five Cambridge faculty among Prospect Magazine’s voted list of 50 ‘World Thinkers 2014’, chosen for ‘engaging most originally and profoundly with the central questions of the world today’. In 2015 Rae gave the John Locke Lectures in Oxford’s Trinity Term, and for that period was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College. Rae was also The Mind Senior Research Fellow for 2015-16.

This event will be taking place online, via Zoom. Please ensure that you have a Zoom account to ensure you are able to view the event.

Booking has now closed for this event. If you have booked and have not received your link to attend, please email