John Etchmendy, former provost at Stanford, recently spoke on the educational challenges ahead, noting that intellectual monocultures may be more damaging to universities than external threats:
But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.
This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. It will be more damaging because we won’t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.
The Economist reports on a poll which shows that young people across the world largely support expanding rights to groups who were formerly denied them. However, with the exception of Turkish youth, they don’t support the right to express non-violent opinions that offend minority groups or religious groups.
At The Atlantic, Caroline Kitchener reports on why Yale updated the name of Calhoun College, and what role the election of Donald Trump may have had in that decision.
Philosophy professor John Holbo published Durkheimian Utilitarianism, the third in a series of critical posts (see parts one and two) on the work of Jonathan Haidt and Heterodox Academy. Check out the comments sections for a discussion of Mill, Durkheim, Bentham, and the heterodoxy project.
Finally, Reason magazine covers Jonathan Haidt’s talk at the International Students for Liberty Conference, in which he explained why libertarians have a critical role to play in creating viewpoint diversity in the academy.
On our blog, we published 2017 Free Speech University Rankings: United Kingdom by Sean Stevens.