The Ethics of Teaching and Scientific Research

By Sidney Hook; Paul Kurtz et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction

Sidney Hook

The two themes to which this volume is dedicated—the ethics of teaching and the ethics of research—are closely related. Nonetheless the connecting issues reflect rather different pressures and interests. In the main the problems that have provoked a renewed interest in the ethics of teaching stem from the politicalization of institutions of higher education, or rather from the politicalization of student bodies and faculty members in some of our most prestigious centers of learning. The common law, so to speak, of academic life—the freedom to teach and learn—has been challenged during the last decade or so, not so much by the state or by political demagogues or by groups outside the academy, as by fanatical elements within the academy itself. Certain doctrines in biology, psychology, sociology, political science and international affairs which have been interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as having anti-social consequences, have been declared taboo! Their proponents are denounced as having forfeited their rights of protection under the canons of academic freedom regardless of the care or conscientiousness with which they have reached their conclusions. This has brought some campuses to violent disruption of classes and meetings.

The rash of these excesses has temporarily abated but questions about the rights and responsibilities of teachers and students in institutions of higher education are more topical than ever. The right to dissent, to protest, to demonstrate is not in question. The mode in which it.

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