Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reynolds: It Is Time Academics Preach the Virtues They Practice

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  USA Today op-ed:  It Is Time Academics Preach the Virtues They Practice, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

Last week, ironic juxtaposition came to San Diego. University of San Diego Law Dean Stephen Ferruolo issued a statement critical of one of his faculty, Larry Alexander, who had committed the sin of coauthoring an oped with Amy Wax of Penn Law School. The two professors praised the “bourgeois virtues.” Also in San Diego that week, crews began hosing things down with bleach solution in an effort to halt a hepatitis A outbreak spread by people pooping in the street.  And within the academy itself, the bourgeois virtues are seldom praised but often practiced. Nobody is better at deferring gratification than a graduate student or junior professor. In their own lives, most professors are quite temperate and hardworking. Their children are almost always encouraged to work hard, go to good schools, and get good jobs, and academic parents are inclined to brag when they do. (The original “Tiger Mom,” Amy Chua, is herself a law professor.) ...

University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter has called on Ferruolo to apologize or resign for his attack on Alexander and Wax. Leiter writes:  “As Dean, his job is to defend freedom of speech and inquiry, even when it is unpopular. He has failed.”

Ferruolo has indeed failed his faculty. But he has also failed the very people he purports to care about, the less-fortunate who would be much better off in a society that encouraged the behaviors that Wax and Alexander promote. Whether or not he resigns or apologizes, I hope he at least spends a moment reflecting on that.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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