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This general opinion provides the foundation of a predominantly new, or modern, argument against censorship—against anything, in fact, that interferes with self-development, and especially such self-development (or, better still, “self-fulfillment”) as a person happens to want and to choose for himself.This can be put in terms of liberty—the liberty to become and to do what one pleases.It is tempting, in such circumstances, to adopt a radical subjectivism that tends to result in a thoroughgoing relativism with respect to moral and political judgments.
Much is made of permitting people to do with their lives (including their opinions) as they please, so long as they do no immediate and evident (usually physical) harm to others.
The old, or traditional, argument against censorship was much less individualistic and much more political in its orientation, making more of another sense of liberty.
According to that sense, if a people is to be self-governing, it must have access to all information and arguments that may be relevant to its ability to discuss public affairs fully and to assess in a competent manner the conduct of the officials it chooses.
This respect for individuality has its roots both in Christian doctrines and in the (not unrelated) sovereignty of the self reflected in state-of-nature theories about the foundations of social organization.
Vital to this approach is the general opinion about the nature and sanctity of the human soul.
(Even those rulers who act without the authority of the people must take care to shape their people in accordance with the needs and circumstances of their regime.