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06/10/2019

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John Schwenkler

Eric, I would like to hear more of what is behind your rejection of (i). *What* is the debate here that you think is not worth having? The one that concerns what sexual orientation is? or whether biological sex is worth of its own social and legal recognition? or whether members of a vulnerable group (in this case those of women, lesbians) can agitate for its rights in the face of opposing rights-claims from other vulnerable persons without thereby being bigoted? And so on.

ajkreider

There's at least one sense in which active no-platforming is opposed to free inquiry - it interferes, necessarily, with the goals of those who sought to hear what the no-platformed had to say. They do not get to inquire. The no-platformer says, "Hear me, not her", and does so by force. This must be so, because if no one came to hear, there'd be little point in no-platforming in the first place.

If the paper versions of Stock's articles were burned, and the online versions hacked, you would no doubt count those acts as opposed to free inquiry. Isn't active no-platforming just a version of this?

Marinus Ferreira

ajkreider says:
"There's at least one sense in which active no-platforming is opposed to free inquiry - it interferes, necessarily, with the goals of those who sought to hear what the no-platformed had to say. [...] This must be so, because if no one came to hear, there'd be little point in no-platforming in the first place."

This is not true: there are many instances of the public presentation of a viewpoint which doesn't attract an audience to engage and isn't in the first instance looking to attract such an audience, but exists in the first instance just to advertise their presence. Consider for instance the long and ongoing history of demonstrations by Nazis and neo-Nazis which routinely attract minuscule numbers of supporters and often much larger groups of counter-demonstrators. The point of the demonstration is simply to be seen, not to engage. This can be seen also by the fact that very many such demonstrations are aimed not at potential supporters, but at groups targeted by the Nazis and neo-Nazis.

There is excellent recent philosophy on the social impact of having views presented, most importantly by Cristina Bicchieri. She points out (notably in 'Norms in the Wild') that the mere presentation of some view or behaviour makes it more prevalent, whether or not they are presented in a positive light or not. It's this effect that the no-platformer is targeting.

As for the comparison between de-platforming and book-burning, the point of the post is instead, it seems to me, to compare de-platforming with such articles not passing peer-review, or being retracted from the press. An instance of this would be the removal of the articles linking vaccines to autism from medical journals.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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