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Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?

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By: Akeel Bilgrami (Editor), Jonathan R Cole (Editor)

Columbia University Press

Paperback | Oct 2016 | #229634 | ISBN-13: 9780231168816
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $24/€22 approx
Hardback | Mar 2015 | #215352 | ISBN-13: 9780231168809
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NHBS Price: £25.99 $32/€29 approx

About this book

In these seventeen essays, distinguished senior scholars discuss the conceptual issues surrounding the idea of freedom of inquiry and scrutinize a variety of obstacles to such inquiry that they have encountered in their personal and professional experience. Their discussion of threats to freedom traverses a wide disciplinary and institutional, political and economic range covering specific restrictions linked to speech codes, the interests of donors, institutional review board licensing, political pressure groups, and government policy, as well as phenomena of high generality, such as intellectual orthodoxy, where coercion is barely visible and often self-imposed.

As the editors say in their introduction: "No freedom can be taken for granted, even in the most well-functioning of formal democracies. Exposing the tendencies that undermine freedom of inquiry and their hidden sources and widespread implications is in itself an exercise in and for democracy."

"Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom? is a fantastic compilation of essays about a critically important and understudied topic. It has been 100 years since the definition of academic freedom was laid out by the Academy and 75 years since it has been studied and synthesized in any significant way, thus making this collection of essays one of the most important documents in that last century regarding the Academy and its role in our society. I would consider this to be the leading compendium of ideas and thinking on academic freedom yet produced."
– President Michael Crow, Arizona State University

"Cogent essays about a topic crucial to the university and to all discourse in a democracy."
Kirkus Reviews

"Academic freedom, the editors of this lively and challenging volume tell us, is a value because 'it enables the pursuit of other values.' It can even be at odds with some of those values, and this is why the topic needs the careful and varied attention it receives in these essays. Is academic freedom a subset of the freedom of speech, and if not, what is it? Who sets the rules for freedom of this or any kind? Who changes the rules when they don't seem to be working? And what does 'working' mean in this context? There are no easy answers in this book, but there are ideas and counter-ideas in abundance, and it handsomely illustrates and defends (and shows it is not afraid of) the value it names in its title."
– Michael Wood, author of Literature and the Taste of Knowledge and Yeats and Violence

"The phrase 'academic freedom' is often used carelessly: here is a work that will allow a more careful conversation about those many crucial issues facing the academy, in which a well-worked out understanding of conceptions of academic freedom is, as its authors show, an essential tool."
– Anthony Appiah, author of The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen and Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

"This impressive collection of 17 essays, with its broad range of social, scientific, legal and philosophical analyses, will be vitally important to democratic and political dialogue."
– Miriam E. David, Times Higher Education

"A sober reminder that while academic freedom may be a 'given,' its proponents can never rest on their laurels [...] Recommended."


Introduction: Who Is Afraid of Academic Freedom?, by Akeel Bilgrami and Jonathan R. Cole

1. A Brief History of Academic Freedom, by Geoffrey R. Stone
2. Truth, Balance, and Freedom, by Akeel Bilgrami
3. Academic Freedom and Its Opponents, by David Bromwich
4. Academic Freedom Under Fire, by Jonathan R. Cole
5. Knowledge, Power, and Academic Freedom, by Joan W. Scott
6. Obscurantism and Academic Freedom, by Jon Elster
7. What's So Special About Academic Freedom?, by Michele Moody-Adams
8. Academic Freedom and the Constitution, by Robert Post
9. IRB Licensing, by Philip Hamburger
10. To Follow the Argument Where It Leads: An Antiquarian View of the Aim of Academic Freedom at the University of Chicago, by Richard A. Shweder
11. What Is Academic Freedom For?, by Robert J. Zimmer
12. Academic Freedom: Some Considerations, by Matthew Goldstein and Frederick Schaffer
13. Academic Freedom and the Boycott of Israeli Universities, by Stanley Fish
14. Exercising Rights: Academic Freedom and Boycott Politics, by Judith Butler
15. Israel and Islamic Freedom, by John Mearsheimer
16. Academic Freedom and the Subservience to Power, by Noam Chomsky
17. Academic Freedom: A Pilot Study of Faculty Views, by Jonathan R. Cole, Stephen Cole, and Christian C. Weiss

List of Contributors

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Akeel Bilgrami is the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy and a Professor on the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. His books include Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment; Self Knowledge and Resentment; and Belief and Meaning.

Jonathan R. Cole is the John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University at Columbia University. For fourteen years, he served as provost and dean of faculties at Columbia. His latest book is The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensible National Role, Why It Must Be Protected.

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