Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The American Philosophical Association: Academic freedom for me but not for thee

The American Philosophical Association, which represents a body of people who have never taken an official position on the the truth of any particular ethical theory, is entertaining a petition to institute an "anti-discrimination" policy that targets the ethical positions of religious colleges and universities over their views on homosexuality.

Here's Francis Beckwith, on this attack on academic freedom by people who have been known to talk about such freedom until they are blue in the face (or until someone exercises a freedom they don't like):
Christian, and other religious, philosophers who maintain traditional views on the intrinsic purpose of human sexuality would do well not to publish or defend their views in print or at conferences until they have received tenure.

What this petition reveals is that there are many in our profession who are willing to employ their clout to punish institutions that, and by extension individual religious philosophers who, will not acquiesce to their disputed views on human sexuality and the nature of the human person. Apparently, many in the APA want to declare, without discussion, debate, or serious reflection, one question of philosophical anthropology forever settled and off limits.

So, according to this petition, Christian institutions are morally required to act as if their beliefs are false, even if these institutions, its founders, its members, and its constituencies all believe they have good reason to believe that their beliefs are true.

Beckwith's remarks prompted this even more insightful remark from philosopher Victor Reppert:
One of the freedoms that I cherish is the freedom to disapprove. Any conception of tolerance that takes away my freedom to disappove, and to act on my disapproval, is a significant freedom lost.

Even if, at the end of the day, it turns out that homosexuality is morally acceptable, it does not follow that gays and their supporters have the right to punish people who disapprove of them and believe them to be acting immorally.
Sounds like a simple reiteration of what academics are always saying about every other issue. One wonders how, in making an exception from their usual standard for this one issue, they are doing anything other than practicing hypocrisy.

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