Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

The Rationality of Academic Freedom

CHEF Talk by Sharon Rider, Professor at Department of Philosophy, Research Coordinator at Department of Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden.

12.08.2019 | Søren Smedegaard Bengtsen

Dato tir 05 nov
Tid 12:00 13:30
Sted CUDiM, Campus Aarhus, building 1483, room 656. Video-link to Danish School of Education (DPU), Campus Emdrup, room D118.

Professional judgment requires formal structures that guarantee the conditions for its exercise. Historically, at universities, such structures have been institutionalized in the form of collegial organs for faculty governance. Given the radical expansion and transformation of higher education and research during the last half century, it is both right and reasonable that the way academic autonomy is realized will change with the times. But certain features of the notion of autonomy are constitutional for the very idea of the modern university and its core mission of science and higher learning. To dispense with these regulative ideals is to dispense with the principles that give academic activities legitimate authority. Such elements include the force of argumentation and evidence as grounds for the exercise of discretionary power, the goal of impartiality, and rationality, broadly construed, rather than loyalties or interests, as a limiting constraint. Inspired by Max Weber's discussion of different forms of legitimate authority, this article argues for a version of academic freedom that gives weight to the requirements of expertise with regard to the form and content of research and higher education, while allowing for the flexibility demanded by the enlarged and fragmented role give to universities today.