What is an issue of academic freedom? When is academic freedom at stake? These are questions which do not, to my mind, admit of a general answer. For the phrase ‘academic freedom’ tends in practice to be used when some restriction is threatened or imposed on any of a wide range of privileges, rights and discretions enjoyed by academics, both individually and collectively. It is a phrase which belongs in particular to the repertoire of the orator in university politics. But there is no one cause whose defence occasions its use. Vice-chancellors and other university representatives talk about academic freedom when defending the principle that universities should be run by academics and not by the Department of Education and Science.’ The phrase is also used when the tenure of a university teacher is thought to have been denied on political grounds rather than grounds of academic competence. Again it is used when freedom of speech is denied on a university campus or when publication is in some other way denied to controversial views within an academic community.


Academic Community Special Theory Academic Freedom Civil Liberty Academic Journal 


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Copyright information

© Royal Institute of Philosophy 1975

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  • Stuart Brown

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