Universities and the Left

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For those who have found Ed Feser’s pieces on the Universities and the Left interesting, (part 1, part 2). Here is his reply to critics. Here’s a nice excerpt on the ‘exception that proves the rule’ of business and economics departments:Other readers have suggested that my thesis is refuted by the fact that university business and economics departments are not dominated by professors hostile to capitalism. Apparently these readers were too busy writing frantic emails or vulgar blog posts in response to what I wrote actually to read what I wrote. For I explicitly acknowledged that socialism as an economic theory is dead even in the academy, and that economists are more likely than other academics to see the flaws in egalitarian policy proposals. Indeed, economics and business departments, precisely because they must be able to attract students who intend to put their education into practice in the real world of everyday business life, could not long survive if their curricula were dominated by crackpot ideas. A humanities or social science department, by contrast, usually attracts students who are seeking only personal edification, who want to go on to teach someday themselves, or who intend to go into the world of politics and policy — where what matters is, not what is true, but rather what will keep you in public office or firmly ensconced somewhere in the bureaucracy. There is accordingly far less chance for bad ideas in these fields to have an adverse effect on the people who believe them (though of course, this does not keep them from having an adverse effect on other people, e.g. those affected by bad public policy). And thus, there is far less pressure on such departments to weed out bad ideas than there is on economics and business departments.

11:38 am on February 21, 2004