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Free Speech, Religious Freedom, the University, and Distress

During the summer of 2021, the Wilberforce Academy held its annual meeting at Worcester College, Oxford.  On the agenda was discussion of abortion and homosexuality from an orthodox, Christian understanding.  Subsequently, the Provost of the college, David Isaac, apologised to students from the college (on summer break) for allowing the college’s facilities to be used to host the event—and this despite his previous record of defending free speech at institutes of higher learning. [1]   An excellent response to this decision has been published as an open letter from the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, Toby Young. [2]   What Provost Isaac appears rather clearly to have done is set his college on a path to fall afoul of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill aimed at those opposed to freedom of speech by de-platforming speakers, cancelling classes, and so forth at British universities in order to advance their own viewpoints and not allow others to present their views.
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Alasdair MacIntyre and Tradition Enquiry

Alasdair MacIntyre's subject is philosophical ethics, and he is best known for his critique of ethics understood as the application of general, universal principles.  He has reintroduced the importance of virtue ethics, along with the role of narrative and community in defining the virtues.  His focus on these things—narrative, community, virtue—combine to form an approach to enquiry which he calls ‘tradition enquiry.’ [1] MacIntyre characterises ethical thinking in the West in our day as ethics that has lost an understanding of the virtues, even if virtues like ‘justice’ are often under discussion.  Greek philosophical ethics, and ethics through to the Enlightenment, focussed ethics on virtue and began with questions of character: 'Who should we be?', rather than questions of action, 'What shall we do?'  Contemporary ethics has focused on the latter question alone, with the magisterial traditions of deontological ('What rules govern our actions?') and tel

Christians and Academic Enquiry in a Postmodern Age

The problem of the nature of academic enquiry is now a very serious concern in light of philosophical shifts in the West over the past 60 or so years, but especially in the past 20 years.  It is rocking the very foundations of education.  The problem is not contained in the public square, particularly the universities, but is also present in faith-based institutions, both Christian colleges or universities and even in seminaries.  There are four options that seem to be possible, but the challenge to any serious discussion of them is that the dominant option of the last 20 or so years is highly charged with political agendas and has the goal of shutting down all discussion.  Christians, therefore, face both the problem of playing defense as a minority in this public debate and being shut down by activists who refuse to give any platform to opponents. The four options for academic enquiry are: 1.      Tradition Enquiry: faith seeking understanding; 2.      Modernist Enquiry: unde