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Why Academic Freedom?

Forthcoming in D. Downs & C. Suprenant (eds.), The Value and Limits of Academic Speech: Philosophical, Political, and Legal Perspectives (Routledge, 2018)

23 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017  

Brian Leiter

University of Chicago

Date Written: December 5, 2017

Abstract

Core academic freedom protects a faculty member's freedom in research and teaching subject only to the limitations imposed by the scientific discipline (the Wissenschaft) in which the faculty member works, where such limits are to be assessed by other experts in the discipline. Such academic freedom is particularly justified by the considerations that Humboldt and Mill adduced in the 19th-century, namely, that such freedom is conducive to the discovery and dissemination of truths about the world. The essay also addresses: (1) problems in characterizing Wissenschaften, (2) grounds for skepticism that academic freedom has the salutary epistemic effects it is alleged to have; and (3) misguided attempts to limit academic freedom by attributing magical powers to the mere expression of certain ideas (here a contrast is drawn between Herbert Marcuse, a staunch defender of academic freedom, and recent self-styled "progressives" on college campuses).

Keywords: academic freedom, John Stuart Mill, Wilhelm von Humboldt, science, Wissenschaft, Herbert Marcuse

Suggested Citation

Leiter, Brian, Why Academic Freedom? (December 5, 2017). Forthcoming in D. Downs & C. Suprenant (eds.), The Value and Limits of Academic Speech: Philosophical, Political, and Legal Perspectives (Routledge, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083120

Brian Leiter (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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