Academic Freedom Podcast #11 on SUNY and Moral Philosophy

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This episode features Professor Jeff McMahan, Oxford University. McMahan, a prominent philosopher in practical ethics who has taught and written on many controversial subjects, is McMahan. McMahan was kind enough to provide some context and help us think about the controversy that is raging at SUNY Fredonia.

The problem at SUNY Fredonia is caused by Stephen Kershnar, a moral philosopher. Kershnar appeared on Brain in a Vat’s video podcast to talk about his academic work in the area of law and morality in pedophilia as well as more generally on “sexual taboos”. Kershnar has been barred from campus, and he is not allowed to make contact with students as the university considers his status. Kershnar’s situation is similar to that of Allyn Walk at Old Dominion University. Walker was a sociologist who researched, among others, the sexual attraction of adults to minors. Walker was soon expelled from university campus after discussing the scholarship in a separate video podcast.

McMahan, McMahan, and I talk about moral philosophy professors and their work, what McMahan believes about moral topics, what McMahan considers the benefits of challenging commonly held beliefs, and the downsides to doing so. Kershnar’s work is not uncommon among moral philosophers. His case may have an impact on how future moral philosophers will think about their work.

You can listen to it all here.