Christian Student Group Sues University Over Denial of Funds for Talk by Robert Audi (updated)


The University of Nebraska, Lincoln chapter of the evangelical Christian student group Ratio Christi is suing the university, claiming it was discriminated against when it was denied funding for a talk by philosopher Robert Audi (Notre Dame).

Robert Audi

Audi, who was a professor at Nebraska for 30 years before moving to Notre Dame in 2003, was invited to campus by Ratio Christi and in April gave a talk there entitled “Is Belief in God Rational Given the Evils of This World? A Christian Philosopher Responds to the Most Popular Argument Against God.”

In February, Ratio Christi had sought funding for the lecture from the University Program Council‘s Fund Allocation Committee, a student-run body that disperses some of the University Program Council’s total funds for events. According to Ratio Christi’s lawsuit, the University Program Council emailed them back with concerns about the event. From the lawsuit:

The Program Council explained, “According to our [Fund Allocation Committee] Bylaws,” the RSO [Recognized Student Organization] Event Fund “shall not be used to finance political campaigns, or speakers of a political and ideological nature.” The Program Council added, “In order to comply with this bylaw your event would need to provide another spokesperson with a different ideological perspective.”

In a reply email, Ratio Christi said that it “[did] not wish to add another speaker to this event.” Id. at 5. Ratio Christi explained, “Our goal as a Christian organization is to offer a Christian academic perspective to students who may not have encountered it before. We didn’t intend for this event to be a debate, but more of an introductory explanation of a particular philosophical position…” In that same email, Ratio Christi informed the Program Council of the title of Dr. Audi’s planned lecture and said he would hold a question-and-answer session after the lecture.

The University Program Council responded on March 11, 2021, stating that its “Fund Allocation Committee cannot fund this event due to its Christian ideological nature.”…  “The definition of ideology,” the Program Council explained, “is based on a group of ideals and beliefs and in this case that would be the Christian perspective.” The Program Council added: “The funds we allocate to RSO’s come[ ] directly from student fees. With that in mind, it is our job to make sure all the ideological perspectives and beliefs are being considered, not just Christianity.

The University Program Council denied the request for funding for the event. The event ended up being funded by Ratio Christi and its members, as well as Professor Audi, who reduced his speaking fee in light of the lack of university support.

The lawsuit alleges that requirements of ideological neutrality or balancing have not been imposed by the Fund Allocation Committee on other student organizations which have sought funding for events that have included “speakers of a political and ideological nature.” [Updated to add the following:] Section 29 of the lawsuit says: “Defendants do not impose on the Program Council or other organizations that engage in student speech the same ‘no ideology allowed’ or ‘counterviewpoint required’ condition when sponsoring events with student fees.” However, it is worth noting that “sponsoring events with student fees” elides possibly relevant distinctions. Events sponsored by the “RSO Event Fund” dispersed by the student-run Fund Allocation Committee—$10,000 of the University Program Committee’s $280,000—are subject to the policies on “ideological” speakers. But it is far from clear that the other student organizations the lawsuit alleges have put on events of an “ideological” nature were supported by the RSO Event Fund. It is unclear, then, whether they are subject to the same policies, and so it is unclear whether there was in fact relevant differential treatment. [Thanks to a careful reader for pointing this out.]

The suit claims that the students’ First Amendment rights were violated (through viewpoint discrimination, compelled speech, denial of free exercise of religion) as were their rights under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It asks that the Fund Allocation Committee’s policy be declared unconstitutional and that Ratio Christi members be exempt from paying the student activity fee that provides the committee with money to disperse, until the policy is changed. It is also seeking reimbursement for the event and damages. Ratio Christi is being represented in the lawsuit by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit legal organization of “Christian leaders” who “came together to build a ministry that would defend religious liberty and keep the doors open for the Gospel.” (One of the attorneys at ADF is on the Ratio Christi board of directors.)

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, “the University Program Council has previously approved funding for two prior Ratio Christi events that brought speakers to UNL since the group organized in 2018.” It is unclear what other university funds, if any, were available for Ratio Christi to request for the Audi lecture. The Journal Star notes that “Other Ratio Christi chapters have also sued their colleges and universities across the country.”

Philosophy at Cincinnati

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Michael Hauskeller
23 days ago

I am not a Christian and have very little interest in Christian perspectives on anything, but I find it very odd that a University’s fund allocation committee would refuse to fund an invited lecture by a renowned Christian philosopher on the grounds that it is “ideological”. Surely, on such a ludicrously vague definition of ideology (“based on a group of beliefs and ideals”) almost any standpoint (and we all have those) can be construed as ideological (e.g. atheism). The refusal to fund the event also plays right into the hands of the far right.Report

Caleb
Reply to  Michael Hauskeller
23 days ago

Yeah, I think any reasonable person would understand “ideology,” in this context, to have some sort of political connotation. I get why a student organization wouldn’t want to fund political organizations for fear of appearing biased toward one particular perspective, but people of all different ideological stripes are religious (and areligious for the matter!)Report

Stephen Burwood
Stephen Burwood
Reply to  Michael Hauskeller
23 days ago

Michael, based on the information provided here, it appears to be a straightforwardly idiotic decision.Report

Michael Hauskeller
Reply to  Stephen Burwood
23 days ago

Yes, it does, Stephen, but you are right to include the caveat “on the information provided here”. Perhaps there is a back story here that we are not aware of.Report

Khull
Khull
23 days ago

Yes, Virginia, there is [a] God.

KHReport

Daniel Weltman
23 days ago

We can charge speaking fees?Report

David Wallace
Reply to  Daniel Weltman
23 days ago

We can *charge* speaking fees.

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

(Henry IV part I)Report

John
23 days ago

What a shame.

I’m not as much irreligious as I am areligious–I was raised in a family where ‘Xmas’ literally meant ‘we’re getting tonnes of shit and eating huge meals’–but the problem of evil is one of the great philosophical puzzles, and hearing Audi work through it would be worthwhile for anyone, as he’s a really gifted philosopher.Report

Miroslav Imbrisevic
23 days ago

The student-run funding body said: “your event would need to provide another spokesperson with a different ideological perspective.”

This infantilizes students [or better: they infantilize themselves]; it treats them as if they cannot make up their own mind. After all, that’s what they are supposed to learn at university: to critically engange with different views.Report

Joe
Joe
23 days ago

Perhaps the idea is that the Christian organization in question is ideologically conservative (and largely white interest oriented?) and from that point of view it is political.Report

Michael Hauskeller
Reply to  Joe
23 days ago

Yes, maybe, but it seems that it wasn’t claimed that Ratio Christi was not eligible to apply for this funding. The objection seems to have been based solely on who was invited (“speakers of a political and ideological nature”), which apparently includes all “Christian philosophers”.Report

Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  Joe
23 days ago

Ah yes: Indeed, *everything* is *always already* political.
Perhaps the organization in question is completely satirical and exists merely to draw attention to the always-already-political nature of everything by repeatedly denying funds to student groups.Report

Last edited 23 days ago by Prof L
Joe
Joe
Reply to  Prof L
22 days ago

Perhaps, but isn’t an old white man casually speaking about evil the ultimate expression of structural white supremacy in academia?Report

Jojo
Jojo
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

Lol, no. It is just a philosophically legitimate discussion about a historically important problem. (Also, Audi is the son of a Lebanese immigrant). Try Twitter.Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Jojo
22 days ago

I am not sure if this is so obvious – Mills argued that many such historically important problems are not that innocent at all (like Descartes’ considering the possibility that he is dreaming or being deceived by an evil spirit and so on). It does seem that speaking of evil as if all it was really was just a neutral fact interesting because it does or doesn’t count for some belief is a bit tone deaf. I don’t think people meet Audi and think – ah, a Lebanese philosopher…Report

Michael Hauskeller
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

I don’t see what him being or not being Lebanese has got to do with anything. And who says he is going to speak “casually” about it? Are you saying that old white men should not be invited to talk about evil (and presumably a whole range of other subjects, or perhaps even any subject), and if they are (which is bad enough), their talks should certainly not be funded (unless, possibly, they came across as Lebanese (or members of some other “minority” group)?Report

Last edited 22 days ago by Michael Hauskeller
Joe
Joe
Reply to  Michael Hauskeller
22 days ago

It’s not me who is saying it, but there are indeed arguments to that effect. In fact, even stronger who suggest that yes, white men should not be speaking/publishing if someone else can do so instead. For example Dan-el Padilla argues thatf or “reparative epistemic justice to take flight, holders of privilege will need to surrender their privilege. In practical terms, this means that (in an economy of academic prestige defined and governed by scarcity) white men will have to surrender the privilege they have ofseeing their words printed and disseminated; they will have to take a backseatso that people of color—and women and gender-nonconforming scholars of 8color—benefit from the privilege of seeing their words on the page. Again, however, I emphasize that this is an economy of scarcity that at the level of journal publication will remain zero-sum (until and unless this system of publication is dismantled): every person of color who is to be published will take the place of a white man whose words could have or had already appeared in the pages of that journal.” (in his Racial Equity and the Production of Knowledge). So, yes, I think this is a possibility. I read a lot of problem of evil papers and how they relate to the belief in god. they are not papers that try to eradicate evil – they are just papers which, at best, seek how to in a way accept the existence evil – it’s just part of human nature, after alll, while remaining a good believer and Christian.Report

ABD
ABD
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

If that’s what “equity” means, then I’m against it.Report

krell_154
krell_154
Reply to  Joe
17 days ago

It does seem that speaking of evil as if all it was really was just a neutral fact interesting because it does or doesn’t count for some belief is a bit tone deaf.”

Did you listen the talk? Did Audi say that all evil really is is a fact that counts as evidence against the existence or God?

And, you can acknowledge that evil is a much more complex phenomenon than that, but still limit your discussion to that aspect of it, namely its role as an argument against God’s existence. Does every talk about a certain topic has to discuss every aspect of that topic?Report

JTD
JTD
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

An exception might be Matthew J. Mayhew speaking about his own evil in writing an article on college football:

I am just beginning to understand how I have harmed communities of color with my words. I am learning that my words — my uninformed, careless words — often express an ideology wrought in whiteness and privilege. I am learning that my commitment to diversity has been performative, ignoring the pain the Black community and other communities of color have endured in this country. I am learning that I am not as knowledgeable as I thought I was, not as antiracist as I thought I was, not as careful as I thought I was. For all of these, I sincerely apologize.

I know it’s not anyone’s job to forgive me, but I ask for it — another burden of a white person haunted by his ignorance. To consider the possible hurt I have played a role in, the scores of others whose pain I didn’t fully see, aches inside me — a feeling different and deeper than the tears and emotions I’ve experienced being caught in an ignorant racist moment.

But even then I see structural white supremacy because he is expecting people of color to undergo the emotional labor of listening to his whining. Report

Michael Hauskeller
Reply to  JTD
22 days ago

Sounds to me like what someone would say who has been tortured or brainwashed into submission by a totalitarian regime before they get executed anyway. Very much like Winston Smith after being threatened to have his face eaten by rats.Report

Last edited 22 days ago by Michael Hauskeller
JTD
JTD
Reply to  Michael Hauskeller
22 days ago

Yes, that is most people’s reaction.Report

Prof L
Prof L
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

If a talk on the problem of evil by Robert Audi is the “ultimate expression of structural white supremacy in academia” then I think we can all rejoice that there is no structural white supremacy in academia.Report

Ronal Gripweister
Ronal Gripweister
Reply to  Joe
22 days ago

Could you please provide a list of philosophical topics that you permit old white men to pursue? That would help me very much in my choice of topics. Thanks in advance.Report

Lisa S
23 days ago

Purely speculatively, it seems to me as if this case was engineered to challenge the bylaw. (The percentage of the budget allocation at issue; the fact that the organization has challenged other university funding allocation principles.) I am curious (a) about the history of the relevant bylaws and (b) whether any attempt was made within the organization to revise or amend the existing bylaws. I would think that in a healthy governance system, you should try to use the internal processes before filing lawsuits.Report

Louis F. Cooper
23 days ago

I know nothing about this beyond what this post reports. With that caveat, I would note that the bylaw says the RSO Event Fund can’t be used to fund speakers of a “political or ideological nature,” but then the Program Council adds that in order to comply, the Christian group would need to add a speaker with a different perspective.

This makes little sense. If the bylaw says “no ideological speakers,” then it should mean that. Instead, the Program Council has apparently read some kind of fairness doctrine, for lack of a better phrase, into the bylaw.

The fairness doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission policy/rule, removed in the late 1980s, that, roughly speaking, required broadcasters to present contrasting views on “issues of public importance” (or some such language). In the days when the three big networks dominated the audio-visual media landscape, the fairness doctrine was, arguably, sensible (though it was never without its critics). Broadcasters held licenses from the government and hence were subject to reasonable regulations. When the media landscape changed with the advent of cable etc., the fairness doctrine became somewhat less easy to defend, though principled defenses of it could still be mounted.

On a contemporary college campus, I can’t see that this kind of fairness doctrine applied to particular student groups, whose entire reason for existing may be to advance a particular viewpoint, makes any sense. Ratio Christi should present its Christian speakers, and other student groups can respond by presenting speakers with different views, and students can go to any or all of these events, and, assuming the speakers are not engaging in blatant hate speech or incitements to violence, there’s no reason student fees shouldn’t support all of them. The point is that students’ activity fees, or whatever they’re called, should be used to support the diversity of perspectives that will more or less naturally arise across a large university’s different student groups, rather than requiring a single student group to present different perspectives within its own programming. Maybe this seems obvious to the point of not needing to be said, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to underline the obvious.Report

Eric Steinhart
23 days ago

Audi did write “Democratic Authority and the Separation of Church and State”, which could be construed as a political manifesto. And that might cause somebody to think that sponsoring him with student funds at a state university might violate the Establishment Clause. However, the information presented above isn’t sufficient to come to any conclusion.Report

Alex Bryant
22 days ago

Good grief Americans are litigious. This kind of dispute plays out between on-campus student groups and their student-led funding bodies (e.g. their student unions/associations) weekly all over the world, and it’s a function of the imperfect development of bylaws for student groups which are themselves then put into practice by undergraduate students. Thankfully, the vast majority of those end up being sorted out without it being trumped up into a lawsuit. Of course(!) the policy isn’t very good, and of course the students involved have somewhat underdeveloped accounts of why they are right while other folks are wrong. Typically that can be worked out on campus, whether through bylaw changes, concessions, or what have you.

It’s unfortunate this is going to yield a lawsuit, as the suit will serve no one other than the high power anti-Civil Rights groups (e.g. the ADF) in the States who want to turn these kinds of disputes into test cases for case law in their efforts to win a culture war through the Supreme Court.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  Alex Bryant
22 days ago

American institutions are also very frugal about where they distribute or give money/resources towards. We’re not very generous when it comes to domestic fundings compared to other developed nations. American institutions and corporations rely on laws and legal loopholes to save as much money or profit as they can. Many times, it’s at the subordination or expense of certain social goods and rights.Report

Jamie
Jamie
Reply to  Evan
21 days ago

The US spends far more on higher education than European countries do. More per student, more per capita, higher percentage of GDP.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  Jamie
21 days ago

1) That’s just education.
2) Did you adjust for tuition fees, GDP, or other numbers?
3) What do you mean by “US”? I was specifically referring to *institutions* (excluding the public).

One should be cautious about researching what a country spends as a whole versus what the institutions e.g. government, universities spend. Out-of-pocket cost for civilians is separate.Report

Last edited 21 days ago by Evan
Evan
Evan
Reply to  Jamie
21 days ago

Case study on Germany:

“One thing is special about Germany: most higher education costs there are covered by the state, the finance ministry stumping up 86 percent of the total. 57 percent of the tuition costs in the United Kingdom are paid by the state, while the figure is a mere 32 percent in the USA. In other words, students there have to shoulder a much greater share of their university expenses.”

Source: https://www.goethe.de/en/m/kul/wis/20925479.htmlReport

A. Person also
A. Person also
Reply to  Evan
21 days ago

Whether Americans are “generous” regarding tax-funded things like education depends on how generous (or not) it is to coercively extract more taxes.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  A. Person also
21 days ago

More coercion wouldn’t be needed if the ultra-rich didn’t lobby for or utilize legal loopholes in our tax laws for them to avoid paying adequate and expected fair share of taxes in the first place. I did mention this in my first comment.Report

A.Non-Rich Person
A.Non-Rich Person
Reply to  Evan
21 days ago

Ok then, two questions–

(1) You say coercion is “needed.” That doesn’t mean it’s morally permissible but instrumentally required. So, is it morally fine if instrumentally needed? This is far from obvious.

Relatedly, (2): What share should the rich pay–what’s “fair”? The top 3% of the wealthy pay over 52% of taxes. Is that enough? https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  A.Non-Rich Person
21 days ago

1) Instrumental for what? It’s only “far from obvious” if one fails to do some adequate thinking on the matter. For example, the law coerces people to protect others. You are not legally or morally permitted to commit premeditated murder.

2) That data reports income tax. Jeff Bezos once only made ~$80,000 in income tax. The question is, why and how? With so much profit, why did he “pay” himself that much? According to this article:

“A huge part of these tiny tax rates is the fact that extremely wealthy people maintain their wealth differently than ordinary people. It’s not sitting in a bank, and it’s definitely not stuffed under the mattress. They hold it in assets like stocks and real estate, which are only taxed when sold. Until then, it’s “unrealized,” not counting as income. Buffet, for example, reported an income of $125 million between 2014 to 2018, despite the fact that his net worth grew by $24.3 billion. Maybe you’ve heard before that Jeff Bezos made a salary around $80,000 as Amazon’s CEO. That’s obviously not the same thing as saying that his wealth only grew by $80K per year. Keeping your salary low is one way the ultra-rich get to keep more of their wealth. Bezos reported $6.5 billion to the IRS between 2006 to 2018, yet his net worth grew by $127 billion“

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.refinery29.com/amp/en-us/2021/06/10514213/billionaires-tax-avoidance-bezosReport

A.Non-Rich Person
A.Non-Rich Person
Reply to  Evan
20 days ago

Quite so.

Still, the top 3% income earners are paying 17x a mathematically equal share. Would want to know: How much they pay in total taxes versus all others. Any chance it’s more than, say, 300% times the next 10 wealthiest percent? Very likely. So again, how much is enough? If billionaires pay “only” 20% of all taxes collected, but are under 1% of people, does this matter?

And who decides? “We the people” by coercion, i.e., the threat of force by the state? Are we to coerce each other because some have lots more money and resources?

Also: The rich make a bunch of their money by *enabling* positive-sum trades. Bezos and his consumers *both* tend to be better off. Does this matter? Has Bezos “taken” from them such that he needs to “give back”? Maybe, depending on the fact pattern. But it’s a real question.

Also: The poorest in most Western democracies remain (if barely) among the world’s super-rich by world historical standards. Does this matter at all here?

While I clearly have a view, I am uninterested in heated argument. Genuinely curious to hear thoughts if willing.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  A.Non-Rich Person
20 days ago

You wrote: “If billionaires pay “only” 20% of all taxes collected, but are under 1% of people, does this matter?”

I don’t know the numbers. But, whatever percentages they should pay, it should be enough to provide adequate funding for public goods and services for people to live flourishing lives. Ideally, a Rawlsian method: so long as it also adequately benefits the least well-off.

Second, it matters insofar as the 1% of people make 15x that of the bottom 50% combined. See. forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/10/08/top-1-of-us-households-hold-15-times-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-combined/?sh=6919e06b5179 

“And who decides? “We the people” by coercion, i.e., the threat of force by the state? Are we to coerce each other because some have lots more money and resources?”

It’s the state. Insofar as most of us value living in a constitutional democratic society, there needs to state “coercion” to ensure equal opportunity exists, even though its meaning is contested. See. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/equal-opportunity/ for the literature on equal opportunity.

However, others probably wouldn’t necessarily use the term “coercion”. Amy L. Chua suggested that the co-existence of markets (capitalism) and democracy is possible due to a *bargain* being struck between the rich minority and poor majority. See. https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/fss_papers/315/ . Chua sees welfare state mechanisms via taxation as a bargain that historically emerged between the rich and poor as a result of living in and maintaining a democratic society. Thus, the language or rhetoric of “coercion” may be misleading or inaccurate in describing the relationship between rich people and the government in a democratic society. 

“The rich make a bunch of their money by *enabling* positive-sum trades. Bezos and his consumers *both* tend to be better off. Does this matter? Has Bezos “taken” from them such that he needs to “give back”? Maybe, depending on the fact pattern. But it’s a real question.”

First, it’s possible to enable positive-sum trades *and* not avoid paying your fair share.

Second, poor people shop at Family Dollar all the time. But are they “better off”? I doubt it. Successful transactions don’t tell us much (if at all) about people’s lives the same way GDP doesn’t tell us about the conditions of actual concrete people. See Amartya Sen’s “Development as Freedom” and a criticism of it in Susan Moller Okin’s article “Poverty, Well-Being, and Gender: What Counts, Who’s Heard?” See. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3558008

Third, I fail to see how your last questions are relevant since the main issue here isn’t about taking or stealing per se but about what actions in regards to taxes are just. Let’s not forget that Amazon threatened union organizers https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/16/technology/amazon-unions-virginia.htmlReport

A. Person too
A. Person too
Reply to  Evan
20 days ago

This doesn’t address my central concerns except to note some (merely) possibly true claims and some quite controversial arguments. But thanks for the ideas.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  A. Person too
20 days ago

You didn’t write anything of concern here! You just made one vague comment to me. The people on this blog are something else.Report

Last edited 20 days ago by Evan
An Equally Non-Rich Person
An Equally Non-Rich Person
Reply to  Evan
20 days ago

Hmm. Interesting. Welp, the concerns are, to repeat:

[1] “the top 3% income earners are paying 17x a mathematically equal share. Would want to know: How much they pay in total taxes versus all others. Any chance it’s more than, say, 300% times the next 10 wealthiest percent? Very likely. So again, how much is enough? If billionaires pay “only” 20% of all taxes collected, but are under 1% of people, does this matter?

[2] And who decides? “We the people” by coercion, i.e., the threat of force by the state? Are we to coerce each other because some have lots more money and resources? 

[3] Also: The rich make a bunch of their money by *enabling* positive-sum trades. Bezos and his consumers *both* tend to be better off. Does this matter? Has Bezos “taken” from them such that he needs to “give back”? Maybe, depending on the fact pattern. But it’s a real question. 

[4] Also: The poorest in most Western democracies remain (if barely) among the world’s super-rich by world historical standards. Does this matter at all here?”

Your reply indicates, speculatively, that somehow the wealthy and poor, or their representatives, or someone(?)/some group(?) historically – in actual practice – has bargained – pace Hume’s “Of the Original Contract”? – to make a deal. Was this done explicitly? How? By whom? When? And under fair conditions? etc.

So, you say, taxation isn’t (or, as you say, might not be) coercive. okay… Maybe not, or not to some extent. But at all? That seems dubious! If you don’t pay your taxes, what happens? You are threatened: pay or be jailed. And if you still don’t cooperate, what happens?

You cite texts, and that’s great. But the texts are controversial, of course, and not dispositive by any stretch, insofar as they even back the claims suggestively pressed.

Again, I agree – it is *possible* to make positive-sum trades and not pay one’s fair share. But here again is a claim about mere possibility, Logically, it’s possible to have a giraffe-zebra. In reality, it’s possible that you’d make a 75-foot jump shot. My point is just that the reply shouldn’t budge anyone – right, center, or left – who remotely sympathizes with worries about coercion as noted above.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  An Equally Non-Rich Person
19 days ago

Do poor people in other countries matter? Yes! They deserve to live flourishing lives too. Everybody does. But in either case whether the poor person is in US or a third world country, they’re both not flourishing even if one has certain privileges the other doesn’t.

I honestly don’t know what’s your point. What is your thesis? If you want to make the claim that the law is coercive, then sure. I agree. But now we’re at a dialectically dead end and boring.

If you want to argue strict facts, then we can do that. If you want to argue about norms, then we can do that. But make your intentions and questions clear.

By your response, I’m assuming you know a great deal of economics and political philosophy. So, it’s only fair that I ask you questions in return:

1) What kind of political arrangements should we have if you are so concerned about coercion?

2) If your answer is too idealistic, then what non-ideal arrangements should we have instead?

3) Do you think some legal coercion is okay, sometimes okay, or never okay? In what cases?

4) Do you think the state have an obligation to ensure everybody has adequate opportunities to live flourishing lives?

5) What obligations/functions should the state have?

P.S. I find it hard to believe that Amartya Sen’s book Development as Freedom is “controversial” since it has been used by the UN and various countries to implement sustainable development and public policy proposals. He won the Noble Prize in economics. What’s controversial amongst philosophers is not always controversial to the majority of people who work in sustainable development who have to act as public servants for their civilians.Report

Last edited 19 days ago by Evan
David Wallace
Reply to  Evan
19 days ago

I’m not sure you really want to grant the principle that from ‘X won the Nobel prize in economics’ we can infer ‘X’s ideas are uncontroversially correct’. I don’t think it will help the political/economic case you are trying to make.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  David Wallace
19 days ago

I wasn’t talking about correctness. Rather, the ideas and proposals aren’t considered “controversial” since the UN and so many countries relied on it for sustainable development goals. Also I have referenced a critique of it. The fact that he won a Nobel Prize is evidence that many of his ideas on sustainable development aren’t considered “controversial” amongst scholars and policymakers.Report

Last edited 19 days ago by Evan
David Wallace
Reply to  Evan
19 days ago

The fact that he won a Nobel Prize is evidence that many of his ideas on sustainable development aren’t considered “controversial” amongst scholars and policymakers“.

(i) Nobel Prizes have on occasion been given for controversial work.
(ii) Sen won the economics Nobel prize in 1998. The 1997 prize was given for the development of the Black-Scholes-equation, the derivative-pricing technique that played a large role in the credit crunch 11 years later.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  David Wallace
19 days ago

Sure, but the question is: is it actually controversial nowadays? I guess if one is a libertarian or highly disagrees with his ideas in that book, then sure. But amongst policy-makers and the UN, not so much.

And even if it is controversial, how controversial is it? Claiming that something is controversial is often used to shut down discussions. If we’re being honest, every political philosophy is controversial to some degree or another. It’s not very productive to assert that something is “controversial” as a proxy for adequately critiquing it.Report

Last edited 19 days ago by Evan
A. Person too
A. Person too
Reply to  Evan
19 days ago

Yes, trained political philosophers might know more about justice than bureaucrats and policy makers do. And no. You haven’t addressed my points 1-4. For someone so apparently interested in truth, you’ve not responded to my inquiries constructively, but merely w/ other questions.Report

Evan
Evan
Reply to  A. Person too
19 days ago

Are you the same person using different names here? If so, why would you do that?

Also, I don’t have all the truths. Are we talking about empirical truths? Asking questions is how we reach it. Am I not allowed to ask questions or something? If so, why not?

If you are the same person as “An Equally…”, then I also did address your questions. I even quoted them. You, however, ended up disagreeing with some of my responses. And now you’re asking me to answer them again! This is ridiculous. Stop trolling.Report

Last edited 19 days ago by Evan
Yanis
22 days ago

I feel this could be easily addressed with a bake sale. Why do university groups need to ask for money? Here at Queen’s University, all clubs get a yearly allowance.Report

J. Bogart
22 days ago

The update says:

“But it is far from clear that the other student organizations the lawsuit alleges have put on events of an “ideological” nature were supported by the RSO Event Fund. It is unclear, then, whether they are subject to the same policies, and so it is unclear whether there was in fact relevant differential treatment.”

The policy of the RSO Event Fund is materially identical to the policy applicable to the University Program Council, which is the Campus Speakers Policy. See ¶146, 151. The Campus Speakers Policy is alleged to apply to all extracurricular speakers. RC was denied funding on the ground that the event offered a Christian ideology without including the policy-required balancing, i.e., another speaker at the event offering an opposing ideology or a second event with that opposing ideology. However, similar requirements were not imposed on other events funded through RSO Event Fund or by UPC which had ideological content. Examples are at 189 to 193 (they include talks supporting diversity, prison reform, climate change trans rights, free speech, etc.). In addition, there are entities with space in student centers which have ideological missions and have sponsored extra-curricular speaking events without the balancing requirement being imposed. ¶194-97 (Womens Center and LGBTQA+ Center). These centers are alleged to have received UPC financial support for the events. UPC itself funded numerous events with ideological or political content without meeting the balancing provisions. ¶189-93. I think the update may need updating.

 Report

A. Person
A. Person
Reply to  J. Bogart
21 days ago

It looks materially different to me. 146 (b) indicates the balancing requirement for the UPC is for funded programming as a whole, not a requirement of individual expenditures.Report

J. Bogart
J. Bogart
Reply to  A. Person
21 days ago

Campus Speakers Policy applies to all UPC funded events, and hence to RSO Events (like the RC event). The RSO Event policy looks to me to be a specification wihtin the Campus Speakers Policy, not something independent. As RSO Events are essentially 1-off events, the balancing requirement must be met within the event funded. Otherwise would CR be required to fund a second event? It can’t get additional RSO funds for that or the next year so I am not seeing any other way to apply the Policy. So I am not seeing a material difference, but reasonable interpretations apparently vary.Report

A. Person
A. Person
Reply to  J. Bogart
21 days ago

The Campus Speakers Policy appears to apply to organizations responsible for funding events, like the UPC, not events themselves, whereas the RSO policy appears to apply to events (the full policies are both online).Report

J. Bogart
Reply to  A. Person
21 days ago

I don’t think that is a material difference here. I take you do. I am content to leave that topic. The complaint does I think the complaint alleges the same funding source for the various events.Report

A. Person
A. Person
Reply to  J. Bogart
21 days ago

Well, it matters because pointing to particular events funded by the UPC but not through the RSO, with ideological content wouldn’t illustrate that requisite balancing provisions were ignored for different ideological persuasions–you’d need to see the whole spate of UPC programming, if the balancing provision the UPC adheres to applies to the organization’s overall programming rather than individual events.Report