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  • - We should try to make ourselves more comfortable

  • with controversial ideas because it's important

  • that those ideas be discussed.

  • We can never know for sure when we're mistaken.

  • There've been such a lot of beliefs

  • that people have been certain of

  • and persecuted people who oppose them

  • that we now regard as false.

  • - It's quite possible that we are all agreed

  • on things that we believe to be true, that are false,

  • and if we prevent them being critically examined

  • and scrutinized and prevent people putting arguments

  • against them, we are not going to discover

  • which of our beliefs are false and which of them are true.

  • I founded the "Journal of Controversial Ideas"

  • together with my co-editors

  • Francesca Minerva and Jeff McMahan

  • because all three of us were troubled

  • by the narrowing climate of ideas

  • that could be openly and freely discussed.

  • When a young philosopher, Rebecca Tuvel,

  • published an article

  • in which she accepted the idea that people

  • who wish to be transgender should be able to identify

  • as a gender different from that with which they were born-

  • but she asked the question, if people can do that

  • with gender, why can't they do that with regard to race?

  • She gave us an example of somebody

  • who had not been descended from African ancestry,

  • but was working for an organization

  • in the United States that was helping Blacks

  • and herself identified as Black.

  • And when it was exposed that she was not really Black,

  • she lost her position and there was a lot of condemnation.

  • And in fact, a lot of that condemnation came

  • from people with the same politics

  • as those who strongly supported the idea

  • of anybody to identify as a gender different from that

  • that they were assigned at birth.

  • So simply for raising that question about trans-racialism,

  • there was a petition to the journal calling for it

  • to be withdrawn

  • and criticizing the editors for publishing it.

  • It was directed against a young woman

  • who was an untenured philosophy professor at that time.

  • So we felt that the article was one

  • that raised a good question

  • and an appropriate response for those who disagreed

  • would've been to show why they thought it was wrong.

  • To attack the article

  • and say it ought to be withdrawn seemed

  • to us to be completely the wrong reaction.

  • And then there've been a number

  • of other instances since then.

  • It seems like university administrations have been very weak

  • in standing up to defend academic freedom.

  • And the idea

  • of university administrations following a Twitter storm

  • of protest against one

  • of their professors having said something seemed to us

  • to be completely wrong.

  • And our concern was that people

  • would stop publishing controversial ideas.

  • So we thought it would be good to have a journal

  • that we reviewed anonymously,

  • so people are not biased, and then publish good articles.

  • And if the authors did not want to put their name on it,

  • we would accept anonymous publication.

  • The argument is mostly put

  • against the controversial articles that we receive

  • that they are going to harm disadvantaged

  • or marginalized groups.

  • But against that, we weigh the importance

  • of having an open debate on issues

  • and the importance of an issue doesn't disappear

  • if you suppress discussion about it.

  • People will still think these things

  • and some people will say these things

  • and because there is no open discussion,

  • there won't be any good understanding

  • of how best to refute the things that people have said.

  • We stick by the view that

  • John Stewart Mill put forward that:

  • In the early 19th century, Jeremy Bentham,

  • the founder of the Utilitarian School,

  • wrote essays strongly attacking the idea

  • that it should be a crime

  • for anyone to have sex with someone of their own sex.

  • But Bentham never published those papers

  • because he felt that to publish them at that time

  • would've brought discredit

  • on all of the other things that he

  • and the early English Utilitarians wanted to do-

  • so those essays remained unpublished until this century.

  • That's an example of something

  • that people firmly believed in

  • and did not allow a real debate.

  • Maybe if they had been more open to controversial ideas

  • and they'd had debates about that,

  • then many decades of repression

  • and discrimination against gays could have been avoided.

  • Freedom of thought and expression

  • is a very important basic good for any society

  • that hopes to progress,

  • that hopes to improve the world's situation-

  • and hopes also to progress in knowledge

  • and understanding of what is true.

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- We should try to make ourselves more comfortable

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Have a controversial idea? Good. Here’s why you should share it. | Peter Singer

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    Joy Hsu に公開 2023 年 10 月 21 日
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