“Offensiphobia” is a Red Herring: On the Problem of Censorship and Academic Freedom

The Journal of Ethics 24 (1):31-54 (2019)
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Abstract

In a recent article, J. Angelo Corlett criticises what he takes to be the ‘offensiphobic’ practices characteristic of many universities. The ‘offensiphobe’, according to Corlett, believes that offensive speech ought to be censured precisely because it offends. We argue that there are three serious problems with Corlett’s discussion. First, his criticism of ‘offensiphobia’ misrepresents the kinds of censorship practiced by universities; many universities may in some way censure speech which they regard as offensive, but this is seldom if ever a manifestation of ‘offensiphobia’. Second, we attempt to reconstruct Corlett’s criticism of ‘offensiphobia’ as a criticism of the practice of censuring hate speech, and show that this argument is unsuccessful. Third, we offer some brief reflections on how labelling universities as ‘offensiphobic’ is especially problematic in light of the current climate of political interference in university research and teaching.

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Author Profiles

Ben Cross
Wuhan University'
Louise Richardson-Self
University of Tasmania

References found in this work

On Epistemic Appropriation.Emmalon Davis - 2018 - Ethics 128 (4):702-727.
No Platforming.Robert Mark Simpson & Amia Srinivasan - 2018 - In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Academic Freedom. Oxford, UK: pp. 186-209.

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