The essay focuses on whether academic freedom is compatible with prescribing a code of conduct outside the classroom. I first look at the Bertrand Russell case. Russell was denied a teaching post at City College of New York because of his expressed opinions on morality and religion. Russell maintained that insofar as he was appointed to a teaching post in logic and mathematics, his opinions on morality and religion had no relevance in assessing his academic competence. Dissenting from Russell's absolutist position, the essay argues that it is unrealistic to expect a university to hire faculty regardless of their opinions, however outrageous, on topics of general, public interest. I then scrutinize cases of allegedly outrageous political opinions. I conclude that most of the criticism directed at such opinions is hypocritical and disingenuous.
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Norman G. Finkelstein; Civility and Academic Life. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2009; 108 (4): 723–740. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-016
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