Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Purpose of Argument: The Minimalist Justification

By Nicholas Stix

“I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one's opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.” – Lichtenberg

The enemies of liberty are concerned foremost not with the particulars of our arguments, but with our ability to advance them at all, even in private. They believe, with good reason, that if they can censor us, get us fired from our jobs, whitelisted from our occupations, and assaulted on the street and even on our own property, that we will simply surrender to despair, and they will win the war, without so much as a shot being fired at them, in the heat of battle.

For an example of what lovers of liberty have long been up against in academia, see the following comment on the article, “Professors' Right to Open Disciplinary Hearings Disputed in Court Battle,” by Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2010:
4. moongate - November 04, 2010 at 10:12 am
RE: Tenure vs. adjunct contract employment

I had an office mate some years ago in the adjunct ranks who justifiably lost his job for several sexist and one racist remark in the privacy of an office three of us shared over the course of a single semester…
While #3 is correct, I believe, in the philosophy of tenure, the reality is somewhat different. Please, let's no pretend that academia has a viable method for dealing with miscreants unless one has a semester-by-semester contract hanging over one's head.

I’d have responded, but had already been whitelisted from so much as commenting at the Chronicle.

Thanks to Thrasymachus and Mangan’s.

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