What is Academic Work?
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
New York Times -- In previous columns I have argued that academic work is distinctive — something and not everything — and that a part of its distinctiveness is its distance from political agendas. This does not mean that political agendas can’t be the subject of academic work — one should inquire into their structure, history, etc. — but that the point of introducing them into the classroom should never be to urge them or to warn against them. I have never felt that my attempts to explain this point have been entirely successful, but I am moved to try again by the recent experience of a conference that, I believe, exemplifies the point in action.
The conference was held last weekend at the University of San Diego School of Law. The subject was originalism — that brand of interpretation that demands fidelity to original meaning, identified either with the standard definition of words at the time of drafting and/or ratification or with the intentions of the drafters. (Full Story)