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


Cross, B and Richardson-Self, L, 'Offensiphobia' is a red herring: on the problem of censorship and academic freedom, The Journal of Ethics, 24 pp. 31-54. ISSN 1382-4554 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1007/s10892-019-09308-z


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 Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:hate speech, offense, freedom of speech, academic freedom, censorship, oppression, harm, freedom of expression
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Political theory and political philosophy
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Ethics
Objective Field:Workplace and organisational ethics (excl. business ethics)
UTAS Author:Richardson-Self, L (Dr Louise Richardson-Self)
ID Code:135583
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE190100719)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-11-04
Last Modified:2021-04-28

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