Appeared in Spring 1990, Vol. XVI, No. 1

The question of academic freedom continues to be a major source of tension between the Holy See and elements of the theological communities in the United States and Europe. In his first article for Faith & Reason Fr. Hall offers a number of important distinctions which shed light upon the contemporary discussion.

It is not uncommon in society today to claim every kind of freedom, while neither clarifying what “freedom” means, nor striving to describe the various types of freedom, nor the origin or validity or legality of these freedoms. Even less is there any effort to document the many viewpoints so readily proposed, as if any careless statement is to be accepted and cherished as true, simply because someone, often with “highly questionable” prestige, has said it. For this reason, we think an attempt ought to be made to review some essential notions on both the subject of “freedom” itself, and also on a few different species of freedom; in particular on “academic freedom.” Our reflections upon academic freedom, therefore, will focus neither on its historical development, nor its status in diverse civil societies, neither does it pursue students’ rights nor the quasi-censorship of campus literature. Our reflections will dwell upon freedom’s intellectual inquiry relative to the pursuit of truth.

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