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Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?$
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Akeel Bilgrami and Jonathan Cole

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168809

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168809.001.0001

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To Follow the Argument where it Leads

To Follow the Argument where it Leads

An Antiquarian View of the Aim of Academic Freedom at the University of Chicago

(p.190) 10 To Follow the Argument where it Leads
Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?

Richard A. Shweder

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines academic freedom at the University of Chicago, which proudly thinks of itself as a Socratic, free-thinking, and contentious institution. More specifically, it considers the antiquarian view of academic freedom associated with two constitutional conservatives, both of them famous for their advocacy of judicial restraint: Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and his former law clerk Alexander Bickel. The chapter explores the ancient Socratic ideal of freedom of thought and the application of the methods of critical reason as the ultimate ends of academic life. It also discusses the University of Chicago's conception of academic freedom as articulated in the Kalven committee report and whether faculty and administrative governance is a threat to academic freedom. It suggests that what makes a great university great is its commitment and willingness to nurture and protect the ardor and fearlessness of autonomous minds to follow the argument where it leads regardless of moral, political, or commercial interests or popular opinion.

Keywords:   academic freedom, University of Chicago, Felix Frankfurter, Alexander Bickel, Socrates, freedom of thought, critical reason, academic life, Kalven committee report, faculty

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