Neutrality and the Academic Ethic

Professor of Philosophy Robert L. Simon has written Neutrality and the Academic Ethic, the fourth book in a series edited by Steven M. Cahn titled, Issues in Academic Ethics. The book is divided into two sections. The first, “Academic Ethics and the Neutral University,” asks if universities should be politically neutral and if so, can they be. Simon examines questions about the meaning of neutrality, distinguishes different conceptions of what neutrality involves, and considers in what sense, if any, institutional neutrality is both possible and desirable.

Part II consists of a collection of original and previously published essays that provides different views on these and related issues. Hamilton Professors David Paris (“Multiculturalism/Political Correctness: Old Wines in No Bottles”) and Richard Werner (“South Africa: University Neutrality and Divestment) are two of the 15 contributors to Part II.


"It is often argued that universities should not aspire to neutrality because neutrality is impossible. Robert Simon's Neutrality and the Academic Ethic shows that those who make this claim fail to distinguish between several conceptions of neutrality and that, properly understood, neutrality is both possible and desirable. His defense of 'institutional critical neutrality' is extraordinarily clear and eminently sensible. He brings genuine philosophical rigor to bear on a debate that has suffered from confusion and bad faith. The selected readings that accompany his essay should provide a good basis for discussion. The book should be required reading for any course in the ethics of higher education."—Alan Wertheimer, The University of Vermont

"At long last, amidst all the heat about the political correctness and the canon, comes Simon's reasoned argument for a notion of institutional neutrality. Simon reminds us how academic debates on these matters should take place. Simon's balanced scholarship is evidenced in his selection of readings, some of which support and some of which oppose his position."—Norman E. Bowie, University of Minnesota

"The essay by Henry Aiken and Sidney Hook's pull-no-punches response concerning general education are particularly exciting."— Ethics

Back to Top