Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Did John Hauptman Admit That Academic Freedom Was Denied?

John Hauptman is a member of the Iowa State faculty, and below is a summary of his op-ed piece:
Intelligent Design is not science. Guillermo Gonzalez is a proponent of intelligent design. Therefore, we can deny tenure to him without violating his academic freedom.

Hauptman's idea of academic freedom is that you are allowed to pursue any idea, as long as it stays within the four corners of Hauptman's definition of science. This is patently not the definition of academic freedom accepted by the overwhelming majority of academics. If you take the standard, commonly accepted meaning of academic freedom and combine it with Hauptman's statements, you get a clear denial of that freedom.

Even if we accept his definition of science, for the sake of argument, it makes no difference. Academics explore interdisciplinary interests all the time. Even if you assert that ID is not science, the concepts involved are most definitely at the intersection of science and philosophy. These topics have been routinely pursued by other scientists such as Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Owen Gingerich, Simon Conway Morris, Paul Davies, Robert Jastrow, Francis Collins and many, many others.

What is clear is that, at Iowa State, only certain answers to these questions and issues are allowed.

In order to do science, you must have a philosophy of science. Philosophy of science is a recognized discipline. Hauptman's definition of science comes from his philosophy of science. Banning alternative philosophies of science is a denial of academic freedom.

Hauptman acknowledges that Gonzalez's science was great. His only complaint is that Gonzalez had a side interest that was not "science" as Hauptman defines it.

This was a blatant and obvious denial of academic freedom, and all people of good will should acknowledge it and condemn the actions of Iowa State University.


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