06 October 2008

Academic ethics

I remember a survey in 1958, of the thirty most prestigious universities in America, asking the faculty, ‘Did you vote Republican or Democrat in the last election?’ Eighty-five percent voted Republican. The same study was repeated a few years ago, with almost exactly the same figures in reverse, somewhere in the eighty percent range were Democrats.

I asked myself the question, “Why?? And I think I figured out the answer. The most passionate public issue in the late 50s and early 60s was civil rights, and the Democrats were arguing, on the basis of a natural law ethic, that segregationist laws had to be changed. Republicans were saying no, it’s economically unfeasible. Today, the most passionate issue is abortion, and euthanasia, and now it’s the Republicans who are arguing on the basis of natural law that these things are wrong, and the Democrats are arguing against. So I guess academia naturally goes to the lowest ethical level. Professors should be expected to support moral monsters and tyrants.

Most of the tyrants of the 20th century had a lot of professors behind them. Pol Pot, the great Southeast Asian master of genocide, studied under Jean-Paul Sartre. John Dewey lauded Stalin. There was a Harvard sociologist who studied Hitler’s executioners. She paralleled level of education with willingness to support Hitler, and she thought there would be an inverse relationship; there was a direct proportion. The more educated you were, the more you tended to favor Hitler’s work and volunteer to do it.

Peter Kreeft

Via Brothers Judd

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