Stanley Fish's New Book on Academic Freedom

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I review Versions of Academic Freedom by Professor Stanley Fish. Many readers who know Fish's reputation will probably be surprised at his minimalist position regarding academic freedom -- what he calls the "It's Just a Job" school. Throughout the book, he argues with those who make more grandiose claims for academic freedom, mainly to use it as cover for all kinds of political and ideological advocacy. I agree with Fish that demands regarding "academic freedom" are mostly just guild-like pleading that everyone else must leave academics to do their thing. I'm not sure if he'd agree with me that there does not have to be a single, one-size-fits-all approach to academic freedom but that we can and should leave it to marketplace wrangling.

Image: University of Chicago Press Books

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