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Do Heterodox Academy’s Means Undermine Its Desired Ends?


If it is true that the Telos of Truth and the Telos of Social Justice are “Two Incompatible Sacred Values in American Universities” because (I’m paraphrasing) the former embodies enlightenment values of evidence, reason, and critical thinking whereas the latter violates those values by replacing them with emotional reasoning and cognitively distorted thinking then why, and importantly how, could any organization pursue both? Aren’t they mutually exclusive? Isn’t a main point of the Incompatible Sacred Values lecture that universities can choose one or the other but not both?

If “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars” really, truly, wanted “to improve their academic disciplines and their universities” as Heterodox Academy’s (HxA’s) mission statement says then wouldn’t the Telos of Truth be the best, nay only, way to go? Wouldn’t the telos of “both,” in the sense it’s used in the Incompatible Sacred Values lecture, be antithetical to the stated goals?

But isn’t the Telos of “both,” on the face of it, what Viewpoint Diversity and heterodoxy – the means by which HxA seeks to achieve its ends –  are all about? By choosing “both” as its means doesn’t HxA undermine, even prevent, the ends of improving the quality of research and education it claims as its mission?

Isn’t viewpoint diversity – i.e., “both” – a euphemism for non-judgementalism; moral and intellectual relativism; a “safe space”? And isn’t “both,” in this sense, a liberal sacred value? Doesn’t HxA signal that at its heart it is ideologically on the left? Isn’t that the message most people will hear?

And if viewpoint diversity and heterodoxy do NOT mean “both” in the sense of Haidt’s lecture, but rather mean The Telos of Truth then why not say that? Why didn’t HxA call itself Veritas Academy? And why isn’t the mission statement something like:

To improve the quality of research and education in universities through mutual understanding and constructive disagreement via the enlightenment values of evidence, reason, and critical thinking.

Isn’t the absence of those things, and not the presence of ideological purity, the real source of academia’s problems? Shouldn’t restoring them be job one?

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I Support Viewpoint Diversity

www.heterodoxacademy.org

A politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

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