Sunday, October 24, 2010

Surprise surprise

Surprise, surprise, it is controversial that the UN is holding a philosophy conference in Iran. The argument seems to be that Iranian academics will not be free to express their opinions at this conference, and others are refusing to go in solidarity. Cheeps of "boycott boycott' echo in the wilderness.

I think Brian Klug, Oxford philosophy professor has it right when he advocates going to the conference in solidarity with Iranian academics, and says "Let the government of Iran be the one that does the boycotting” by “withdrawing invitations or forbidding would-be participants from participating.”Academic boycotts, I think, are counterproductive.

I however, would not have planned this conference in Iran. Why? I think academic boycotts, as a punishment for human rights violating countries, are a way for self satisfied academics to express their moral superiority. On the other hand, the planners of the conference have an obligation to make sure attendees are safe by, for instance, not planning a conference in a country where academics and students are jailed and put to death for spurious reasons. I am not really sure about this though. Hm.