The Status of Academic Freedom
Academic freedom is the idea that scholars should be free to pursue knowledge without interference from censorious agents. Those who defend academic freedom uphold the liberty for academic actors to communicate ideas or facts, even when those ideas are inconvenient or potentially offensive. For the proponents of this liberty, the academic mission of knowledge production can only succeed under freedom of inquiry. In liberal societies, one may take scholarly freedom for granted. Yet, in the last decades, several voices came to fore denouncing not only systematic violations on academic freedom but also a lack of true scholastic pluralism. Threats to academic freedom also come from outside the universities. Academics working on bioethical topics like abortion or genetic engineering many times suffer (death) threats from dogmatic religious groups or individuals.
This conference assesses the status of academic freedom in contemporary times. Namely, it engages in a philosophical discussion about whether there are limits to the liberty of western scholars and whether there is any legitimacy to curtail this liberty.
Viriato Soromenho-Marques (University of Lisbon)