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Academic freedom and epistemic responsibility

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an in-person event. Registration is only required for non-CEU members. 


This talk is work in progress and asks how academic freedom relates to epistemic responsibilities that scholars and scientists have as members of an academic community. It will be assumed that ethical and academic standards matter for academic freedom in the following sense: without these standards, the principle of academic freedom – governing and protecting the academic space – can easily become dysfunctional if not self-destructive. Academic freedom is a principle that can be employed in an aim to destroy the very space that is meant to be protected by it. In other words, it can be abused. That’s the challenge in the background of this paper project. On that basis, I will outline an argumentation that aims to show that such abuse can be prevented (to a certain degree) with reference to epistemic responsibilities, a specific subset, as I try to show, of the general responsibilities that members of the global academic community have. As part of that I will discuss cases such as Holocaust denial, and ask: when is such a speech act protected by academic freedom and when is it not? If there are cases in which the speech act is not protected by academic freedom, in which sense do the limits of academic freedom have to do with epistemic responsibilities? 


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