Re: [asa] Expelled Explained (firing those you don't agree with)

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Apr 14 2008 - 18:28:29 EDT

Dick said: You're free to say what you want, they're free to retain those
who tow the line. I don't see any problem with that. Do you?

I respond: Yes, Dick, I do see a problem with that. Academic freedom is
fundamental to the purpose of universities in democratic societies. One of
the most important functions univeristies provide in free societies is a
space where scholars are free to speak without having to "toe the line."
This is why university faculty typically work under contractual arrangements
that guarantee academic freedom and that provide the further security of
tenure upon the attainment of clearly stipulated goals. Academics in places
like China and North Vietnam have to "toe the line."

Universities should not be analogized to firms in markets. We're not about
selling consumables, we're about investigating truth. You're right that
many dynamics of higher education in America are conspiring to pervert that
dynamic, but this should be seen as a perversion, not as the desirable state
of things.

On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 6:15 PM, Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
wrote:

> Hi David, you wrote:
>
>
>
> >>Finally, when it comes to extra-curricular writing and speaking -- work
> that isn't directly related to my professional obligations -- academic
> freedom means I ought to be free to think and say whatever I want, however
> stupid it might be.<<
>
>
>
> You're free to say what you want, they're free to retain those who tow the
> line. I don't see any problem with that. Do you? A university depends
> on its reputation to attract quality, tuition paying students. If a
> faculty member by their publications or their public appearances besmirches
> or impugns the reputation of that institution said institution has every
> right within their contractual obligations and tenure requirements to retain
> or terminate that person. A university must retain a competitive edge in
> the marketplace for students and endowments. That's called free market
> capitalism. That's one of the hallmarks of our society.
>
>
>
> When I was in the Air Force and went to Viet Nam there was a physician who
> was an Air Force captain and refused to serve in Viet Nam. My thought at
> the time was that if you've taken the money in return for your service you
> are obliged to perform that service. It wasn't like he had to join the
> Air Force. He willingly gave up his rights by taking the money, then he
> tried to renege. The same principle applies here. If a university hires
> a professor and the professor receives money from the institution and the
> institution says you can't go to church on Sunday, you either refuse the
> employment or take up golf. There is no requirement to accept the terms
> of employment you can go elsewhere.
>
>
>
> Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
>
> Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham
>
> www.historicalgenesis.com
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:* asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] *On
> Behalf Of *David Opderbeck
>
> *Sent:* Monday, April 14, 2008 5:27 PM
> *To:* Dick Fischer
> *Cc:* ASA
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Expelled Explained (firing those you don't agree
> with)
>
>
>
> Dick, I think your conflating a couple of different issues concerning
> academic freedom.
>
>
>
> You're quite correct that academic freedom doesn't mean a professor is
> free to teach just anything. A university can and should have curricular
> standards to which teachers must adhere. When I teach Torts in the first
> semester of law school, I have to cover the rules of torts.
>
>
>
> However, academic freedom does mean that I can't critique the existing
> rules of torts in class as I teach them, even if the university
> administration doesn't agree with my critique. Now, there's a fuzzy line
> here -- if my critique is so stupid that it detracts from teaching the core
> concepts, I might not be fulfilling my obligation to teach the basic
> curriculum.
>
>
>
> When it comes to publishing and public speaking in fulfillment of my
> professional obligations, academic freedom means I have even more latitude
> to offer opinions that are contrary to the received consensus. The
> administration has essentially no right at all to censor my professional
> writing or speaking. That role is supposed to be played by my peers,
> through professional societies, peer review, etc.
>
>
>
> Finally, when it comes to extra-curricular writing and speaking -- work
> that isn't directly related to my professional obligations -- academic
> freedom means I ought to be free to think and say whatever I want, however
> stupid it might be. If I choose to offer an unpopular opinion on a blog, or
> email list, or in the trade press, that is my right. Of course, if I spend
> all my time on that sort of thing and don't publish "ordinary" work in
> peer-approved outlets, the school might dismiss me for not meeting my
> professional obligations. (One bit of fuzziness here -- if I'm speaking on
> my own behalf and am engaged in something particularly controversial, I
> might have a duty to make clear that my school is not necessarily endorsing
> my views).
>
>
>

-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Apr 14 18:30:36 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Apr 14 2008 - 18:30:36 EDT