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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
“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…)
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..
“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.” ..
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…)
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.
One of the benefits of thought experiments and hypothetical examples is that, since the people with which they’re populated aren’t real, you can relentlessly discuss your way through the logical space without having to worry about how they’ll take what you’re saying about them. Your conversation might justifiably sound a bit different, I’d think, if your interlocuto..
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…)
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…)
Any characterization of the United States as “a melting pot,” for example, is classified in widely used training materials as a microaggression signaling a refusal to acknowledge the role that race plays in American society. The same goes for saying “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough” or “I believe the most qualified person should get the..
The American Philosophical Association (APA) Board of Officers have written a letter in which they “protest the action of the Chancellor and Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in withdrawing the offer of a tenured position to Professor Steven Salaita.” The Board condemns the actions of these officials based on considerations of free ..
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…)
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..
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..
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..
Yesterday, twelve people were shot dead at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. It was reported that the gunmen shouted “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”), and so the attack is believed to be the work of militant Islamists in response to offensive cartoons that appeared in the magazine.
The actions of the present government to persecute Professor Öymen, using an ill-conceived law, applied inappropriately, endangers the standing Turkey now enjoys with the international philosophical community…
are accustomed to offering and receiving blunt criticism. The freedom to do so is a necessary condition for philosophical activity, and even more, part ..
Andrew Pessin, professor of philosophy at Connecticut College, is at the center of a controversy at Connecticut College regarding offensive speech for a Facebook post he wrote in August, 2014. In the post, reports Inside Higher Ed,
Pessin describes the situation in Gaza as one in which “a rabid pit bull is chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escap..