NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1121105
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-2156-8235
"Free Speech" and "Political Correctness"
Scott, Peter
European Journal of Higher Education, v6 n4 p417-420 2016
"Free speech" and "political correctness" are best seen not as opposing principles, but as part of a spectrum. Rather than attempting to establish some absolute principles, this essay identifies four trends that impact on this debate: (1) there are, and always have been, legitimate debates about the--absolute--beneficence of science; (2) a shift towards a more confused, fractured, volatile and ideologically diverse global environment; (3) the rise of so-called "identity" politics; and (4) the student base of twenty-first century mass higher education systems is much more heterogeneous than that of the elite university systems they replaced--and, arguably, more heterodox as a result. Two conclusions can be drawn from the impact of these changes on the tone of the debate about "free speech" and "political correctness". The first is that there are, and never have been, any absolutes. No campus, although the university should offer a space where this freedom is exercised up (and even a little beyond) these legally imposed and socially mandated limits, can agree that "anything goes". On the other hand, although sensitivities and vulnerabilities should be respected, there are clearly limits of the extent to which they can be indulged if free and vigorous intellectual enquiry is in danger of being seriously inhibited. So the best approach is a pragmatic one, to balance free expression with mutual respect case-by-case. The one depends on the other; these are not contrary principles. The second conclusion is that universities are, or should be, exceptionally well placed to strike this balance.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A