1st Edition

The Value and Limits of Academic Speech Philosophical, Political, and Legal Perspectives

Edited By Donald Alexander Downs, Chris W. Surprenant Copyright 2018
    366 Pages
    by Routledge

    366 Pages
    by Routledge

    Free speech has been a historically volatile issue in higher education. In recent years, however, there has been a surge of progressive censorship on campus. This wave of censorship has been characterized by the explosive growth of such policies as "trigger warnings" for course materials; "safe spaces" where students are protected from speech they consider harmful or distressing; "micro-aggression" policies that often strongly discourage the use of words that might offend sensitive individuals; new "bias-reporting" programs that consist of different degrees of campus surveillance; the "dis-invitation" of a growing list of speakers, including many in the mainstream of American politics and values; and the prominent "shouting down" or disruption of speakers deemed inconsistent with progressive ideology. Not to be outdone, external forces on the right are now engaging in social media bullying of speakers and teachers whose views upset them.

    The essays in this collection, written by prominent philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, and legal scholars, examine the issues at the forefront of the crisis of free speech in higher education. The contributors address the broader historical, cultural, legal, and normative contexts of the current crisis, and take care to analyze the role of "due process" in protecting academic freedom and individuals accused of misconduct. Additionally, the volume is unique in that it advances practical remedies to campus censorship, as the editors and many of the contributors have participated in movements to remedy limitations on free speech and open inquiry. The Value and Limits of Academic Speech will educate academic professionals and informed citizens about the phenomenon of progressive censorship and its implications for higher education and the republic.

    Introduction Donald Alexander Downs and Chris W. Surprenant

    1. Philosophy, Controversy, and Freedom of Speech Peter Singer

    2. Why Academic Freedom? Brian Leiter

    3. Free Speech and Ideological Diversity on American College Campuses Keith Whittington

    4. Are Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Congruent or Opposed? James R. Stoner, Jr.

    5. Freedom of Expression at the Private University John Hasnas

    6. Outside Funding to Centers: A Challenge to Institutional Mission? Jason Brennan

    7. Harm: An Event-based Fienbergian Account Andrew J. Cohen

    8. The Difference between Being Offended and Taking Offense Michael Joel Kessler

    9. The Necessity of Offense Shane Courtland

    10. ‘Words that Wound’ in the Classroom: Should they be Silenced or Discussed? Christina Easton

    11. Speech and War: Rethinking the Ethics of Speech Restrictions Burkay Ozturk and Bob Fischer

    12. Growing-up Disturbed Frank Furedi

    13. Don’t Make Me Laugh: Speech Codes and the Humorless Campus Edward Johnson

    14. Sex, Liberty, and Freedom of Expression at the American University Evan Gerstmann

    15. Skepticism about Title IX Culture J.K. Miles

    16. From Academic Freedom to Academic Responsibility Arianne Shahvisi

    17. Campus Speech, Diverse Perspectives, and the Distribution of Burdens Ryan Muldoon

    18. When Free Speech is False Speech Sarah Conly

    19. The Plausibility of Abhorrent Views, and why it Matters Calum Miller

    20. Safeguarding Academic Freedom on Campus through Faculty Governance Rima Najjar Kapitan


    Donald Alexander Downs is the Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science, Law, and Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Glenn B. and Cleone Orr Hawkins Professor of Political Science at the University. He is also the director and co-founder of the University’s Wisconsin Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy.

    Chris W. Surprenant is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Orleans, where he is the founding director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Project, an interdisciplinary center for research and programming focusing on issues at the intersection of ethics, individual freedom, and the law.