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CPP Colloquium, Academic Freedom: How to Conceptualize and Justify it?

Thursday 21 October 2021
CPP Colloquium 2021-2022
on location and online
PJ Veth 1.01 and online

Online: https://smart.newrow.com/room/nr2/?room_id=iad-986&fr=lti

Devrim Kabasakal


This article deals with the question of how academic freedom can be conceptualized and justified. First, I analyze two conceptions of academic freedom: institutional autonomy and intellectual and professional autonomy. I claim that institutional autonomy is a limited way to conceptualize academic freedom because there is no guarantee that institutions always favor freedom of intellectuals. In line with this, I argue that academic freedom as intellectual and professional autonomy should be the prior, if not the only, conception of academic freedom. Second, I examine critically different justifications of academic freedom that provide us with reasons to attach high protection to academic freedom as a particular right. I contend that the justification of the university as a realm of discovery of truth and independent knowledge production has to be complemented with the justifications of the university as a realm of democratic free debate and the autonomy of academics to speak freely. This is because, the discovery of truth argument alone does not require us to accept any moral principle other than skepticism about our own beliefs, which is not a strong ground for free speech on its own. Third, I argue that equal autonomy provides a good reason for academic freedom by emphasizing the rights of academics to speak in line with what they believe is true and only in this way, can they contribute to the democratic debate in academia. This line of reasoning endorses the value of the search for truth and knowledge too since it is only possible for academics to perform the profession of search for truth when they are able to speak, write and research freely.


Dr. Devrim Kabasakal Badamchi is an at-risk scholar from Turkey. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Ankara University in 2000, her master’s degree from Middle East Technical University in 2002 and her PhD from Luiss Guido Carli University in Italy in 2009. She worked as an assistant professor at Izmir University till July 2016. She taught political theory at SOAS, University of London between January 2018- December 2019. Since July 2020, she is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Leiden University. Her research falls within the field of contemporary political theory with a focus on liberalism. More particularly, she specializes in free speech, hate speech, toleration, multiculturalism and pluralism. Dr. Badamchi has published articles in various peer reviewed journals including Turkish Studies and Philosophy and Social Criticism.

About the Center for Political Philosophy (CPP) Colloquia Series

The CPP is a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University. Attendance of the Colloquia is free and there is no need to register. See CPP for more information. For further questions please contact dr. Wouter Kalf at w.f.kalf@hum.leidenuniv.nl

All are welcome!

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