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“Offensiphobia' is a red herring: on the problem of censorship and academic freedom

Cross, B and Richardson-Self, L ORCID: 0000-0002-0010-8615 2020 , '“Offensiphobia' is a red herring: on the problem of censorship and academic freedom' , The Journal of Ethics, vol. 24 , pp. 31-54 , doi: 10.1007/s10892-019-09308-z.

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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.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Cross, B and Richardson-Self, L
Keywords: hate speech, offense, freedom of speech, academic freedom, censorship, oppression, harm, freedom of expression
Journal or Publication Title: The Journal of Ethics
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
ISSN: 1382-4554
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s10892-019-09308-z
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 Springer Nature B.V.

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