Thursday, June 23, 2005

Disagreeable Opinions; Anti-Religious Tests for Academic Employment at Cardozo?

If I understand him aright, the dean of my law school proclaims that opinions rooted only in religious faith are divisive. See my prior post today.

A divisive opinion is ...

... a disagreeable opinion.

A disagreeable opinion is ...

... an opinion that I disagree with.

Now, let me see, if I have this right, ...

... a divisive opinion is an opinion that I disagree with.


My venerable dean apparently thinks that opinions about controversial issues such as abortion should not be influenced by religious beliefs, but only by non-religious reasoned debate.

Does Dean Rudenstine actually believe that controversies about matters such as abortion can be resolved exclusively and satisfactorily by the application only of the sweet light of reason -- non-religious reason, that is?

Mmmm ...

I say:

Give me your premises, and I will give you your conclusions.

Give me my premises, I will make you yield to my conclusions.

How will we resolve differences of opinion about our premises? Shall we flip coins or throw dice?

And how will the sweet light of reason resolve questions that are not decidable by evidence?

Will the sweet light of (non-religious) reason tell us whether or not we should kill elderly people because ... well, er ... just because they're too old? What non-religious evidence will tell us that this is the wrong thing to do?

Legal education is incompatible with faith, Dean Rudenstine informs us. He can't mean all religious faith, can he? That would be taking things pretty far.

Mmmm... [... Tillers thinking ...] Rudenstine suggests that only some religious faith is obnoxious. He suggests that faith unsupported by evidence is obnoxious. Yes, that's it: he only objects to dogmatic religious faith in the law -- and in law schools.

Well, that's not so bad, is it? But does it follow that Cardozo Law School will have a religious test (an anti-religious test?) for employment as a law teacher? Will the Cardozo appointments committee henceforth be required to scrutinize the religious beliefs of job applicants to see if their religious beliefs are supported by evidence? I can imagine the questions:

1. You say, Ms. Jones, you believe in the Resurrection. What leads you to think ...

2. You say, Mr. Smith, you believe in Nirvana. Or is it Karma? In any event, Mr. Smith, what leads you to think ...

No, no, no! That's too troublesome. Surely henceforth Cardozo can only hire non-believers!

Mmm... Do you suppose you suppose Dean Rudenstine was just trying to twit us ... and all of those college counselors who visited Cardozo Law School on June 9th? Yes, that must be it! (I can only hope that those guidance counselors did not take him seriously.)

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