Philosopher To Be Appointed UK’s First “Free Speech Tsar”
Arif Ahmed, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, has reportedly been selected as UK’s first “free speech tsar” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (more…)
Intergroup Dialogue in the Philosophy Classroom (guest post)
“Over 70% of our students… reported being more likely than before to listen to someone who held an opposing viewpoint…” (more…)
Cancel Culture: A Cross-Generational Dialogue (guest post)
“Should we double down on generating controversy, or should we watch what we say? And if the latter, can we still participate in an open inquiry?”. . .
“Philosophers who ‘just raise the tough questions’ should reflect the discipline’s tradition of open inquiry back on themselves and consider the purpose that specific ‘tough questions,’ or even the call for philosop..
Linguistic Society of America Considers Free Speech Resolution
The Linguistic Society of America (LSA), the main professional organization in the U.S. for academic linguists, is considering adopting a version of the “Chicago Principles on Freedom of Expression.” (more…)
When Philosophizing in Public, Remember How Strange We May Seem
Philosophers have a long history of being misunderstood by others. The risk of dangerous misunderstandings have led some philosophers in previous eras to take a variety of strategies—careful phrasings, flattery, literary devices, understatement, pseudonyms, running away—to avoid getting in trouble with the masses or their rulers. (more…)
What a Cancellation Looks Like (guest post)
“Most readers will find what happened to this professor horrifying and wrong…” (more…)
Experimenting with Higher Education (updated)
A new university is being created by a group of academics and media personalities who, unlike you and your university, care about the truth: (more…)
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). (more…)
Complementing Defenses of Academic Freedom with Understanding & Advice
As reported earlier this week, there’s a new organization, the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), that aims to defend faculty whose academic freedom is being threatened. (more…)
Philosophers On GPT-3 (updated with replies by GPT-3)
Nine philosophers explore the various issues and questions raised by the newly released language model, GPT-3, in this edition of Philosophers On, guest edited by Annette Zimmermann. (more…)
Illusion and Agreement in the Debate over Intolerance
A good number of very smart, interesting, and creative people signed onto an open letter, published in Harper’s this week, applauding “wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society” while lamenting “the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.” (more…)
Free Speech at Oxford (updated with an important correction)
Flying around social media yesterday were cheers that Oxford University had issued a “Statement on the Importance of Free Speech” in response to a motion from the Oxford Student Union allegedly to “ban ‘ableist, classist and misogynist’ reading lists”. (more…)
Benatar Responds to Student’s Accusations and the Reporting about Them (updated)
In March, 2016, a student at the University of Cape Town publicly announced that she was facing a disciplinary proceeding at her school because she called her philosophy professor a racist. I reported on the story here. (more…)
UGA Philosophy Grad Student Cleared of Misconduct Charges
The University of Georgia (UGA) has determined that Irami Osei-Frimpong, a philosophy graduate student and teaching assistant at the school, did not violate the school’s code of conduct.
Crying “Crying Wolf”
Suppose that instead of one shepherd boy, there are a few dozen. They are tired of the villagers dismissing their complaints about less threatening creatures like stray dogs and coyotes. One of them proposes a plan: they will start using the word “wolf” to refer to all menacing animals. They agree and the new usage catches on. For a while, the villagers are indeed m..
UGA “Vigorously Exploring All Available Legal Options” It Can Take Against Philosophy Grad Student
A University of Georgia (UGA) alumnus’s expression of bafflement at his alma mater’s failure to condemn remarks made by a philosophy graduate student at the school and his call for other alumni to withhold donations has apparently prompted the university to consider action against the graduate student. (more…)
The Difference Between Snowflakes and Champions of Free Speech
What is the difference between those accused of being whiny, coddled, politically correct snowflakes and those who are considered brave champions of free speech? (more…)
Universities as a Bulwark Against (and Target of) Fascism
“Fascist politics seeks to undermine the credibility of institutions that harbor independent voices of dissent,” says Jason Stanley (Yale), and chief among such institutions are universities, which for the past 50 years have been “the epicenter of protest against injustice and authoritarian overreach.” (more…)
The “Moral Panic” of Campus Free Speech
People get awfully solemn in the United States about the civic function of our institutions of higher education. They talk about college as the nursery of democracy and the care that we must take with our young people. As educators, the future is in our hands. I believe it is worth puncturing this solemnity with some awkward questions. (more…)
Professors Favor Free Speech
93 percent of faculty agree with the statement that, “niversity life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other.” There is almost universal support for the exchange of ideas and open discourse. (more…)
Media Reports on Campus Free Speech “Out of Kilter with Reality”
“The press accounts of widespread suppression of free speech are clearly out of kilter with reality,” says a new report on free speech at universities by the UK Parliament. “Any inhibition on lawful free speech is serious, and there have been such incursions, but we did not find the wholesale censorship of debate in universities which media coverage has suggested.” ..
The “PC College Students vs. Free Speech” Narrative is Baloney
Overall public support for free speech is rising over time, not falling. People on the political right are less supportive of free speech than people on the left. College graduates are more supportive than non-graduates.
Peter Singer Event Disrupted By Protestors
A University of Victoria event last week featuring philosopher Peter Singer (Princeton), organized by the university’s Effective Altruism club, was disrupted by protestors objecting to Singer’s views about disability. (more…)
The Autonomy of University Ethics Centers
Wednesday afternoon, Gordon Hull, associate professor of philosophy at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and director of the school’s Center for Professional and Applied Ethics, put up a post on the Center’s webpage about the recent police shooting of an unarmed black man, Keith L. Scott (see the bottom of this post for that text). (more…)
Blasphemy Charges Against Philosopher Dismissed
In April, philosophy professor Sheikha al-Jassem (Kuwait University) was charged with blasphemy after a television interview in which she discussed freedom of religion and the importance of a secular basis for law in Kuwait. She has now informed me that she was cleared of all charges. She writes: (more…)
The thing I always like to stress is that although academics have the right to offend, they must do so responsibly, and they must to be able to defend the origin of the academic freedom of the right to offend and show that they exercise it in a way that’s as responsible as possible. Sometimes this means, if there is something on your syllabus that troubles a student..
Philosopher Faces Blasphemy Charges (updated)
Philosophy professor Sheikha al-Jassem (Shaikha Binjasim) is facing charges of blasphemy and the possible loss of her faculty position at Kuwait University, owing to remarks she made in a television interview about freedom of conscience, the politicization of religion in Kuwait, and how the Kuwaiti constitution, not the Quran, is and should be the basis of law in Ku..
Student Faces Tribunal for Calling Philosophy Professor “Racist”
Busi Mkhumbuzi, an undergraduate at the University of Cape Town (UCT), reports that she has been “summoned by the Student Tribunal” (part of the university’s apparatus for addressing offenses committed by students) for spreading “racist and defamatory remarks” about UCT philosophy professor David Benatar. Mkhumbuzi says she has called Benatar “racist, ableist and se..