How Liberal Universities Could Liberate Speech

Drew Faust, the President of Harvard, is concerned about the plight of free speech on college campuses and hers in particular.  She says all the right words about the importance of free speech to a university. But her suggestions about how to secure it are vague  and anodyne. For instance, Faust exhorts  those at the university to be “generous listeners.”  For a college President, that is a bit like a preacher exhorting his congregation to oppose sin.

It is easy to be a generous listener when you are listening to people who agree you with you.  But the ideological and partisan homogeneity of Harvard makes generous listening to sharply dissenting views harder, because it is easier to regard them as irrational or evil when none of your friends and colleagues share them. The problem is a structural and institutional one and cannot be solved by sermons.

Thus, if Faust were serious about free speech and free inquiry on campus she would announce some initiatives to make sure that conservative and libertarian voices punctured the campus bubble. A school as wealthy as Harvard could announce a speaker series to bring in a serious conservative or libertarian scholar once a week to speak to the entire university on an issue of public policy or political philosophy.

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Diversity Policies Favoring Minorities and Women Create Less Ideological Diversity

Professors at law schools are overwhelming left-liberal, as I made clear in a 2005 study published in the Georgetown Law Review. Just as it was said in the late nineteenth century that the Anglican Church was the Conservative Party at prayer, our law schools today are the Democratic Party at the podium.  The hard resulting policy question is whether law schools should adopt affirmative action for libertarians and conservatives to foster the debate that should inform legal subjects with a substantial political valence.

While I have not supported preferences of this kind, the strongest arguments in their favor are the existence of preferential policies in favor of race, gender, and ethnicity that are themselves justified as a way of creating a fuller debate. Indeed, one particularly powerful point—rarely if ever made made—is that the widespread intentional discrimination in favor of certain preferred groups in faculty hiring has a disparate impact on conservative and libertarians and reduces their presence at law schools. That is, since minority and female law professors are likely to be even more left-liberal than white males, the routine diversity policies of law schools decrease the number of conservatives and libertarians compared to a baseline of purely merit selection.

A new study of the ideological imbalance in the legal academy,  The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity, provides hard statistical support for this proposition. It shows that minority and female faculty members are  indeed substantially more likely to be left-liberal than white males and be even more left-wing.  Racial and gender diversity does reduce ideological diversity.

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Libertarians and Classical Liberals on Trump versus Clinton

I have taken a real interest in the debate among libertarians and classical liberals (as well as conservatives) over whether to support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  In the past, libertarians and classical liberals (who I will refer to simply as libertarians for ease of exposition) have tended to split between supporting the Republican nominee and the Libertarian Party nominee.  Yet, if libertarians were forced to choose between the Republican and Democratic nominees, my sense is that the great majority would support the Republican.

These days the matter is different.  Libertarians like Donald Trump much less than they like the usual Republican nominees.   Unsurprisingly, then, many more of them are considering voting for the Libertarian Party nominee.  But interestingly many of them, when pushed on the issue, say that they prefer Clinton to Trump.

Here are some of the main views of the two camps.  Those who favor Trump over Clinton believe that another Democratic Administration would be very bad for the Republic.  Another 4 or 8 years, after 8 years of Obama, would be disastrous.  They argue that concerns about Trump’s corruption and authoritarianism are no greater than concerns about a Clinton Administration.  Moreover, the media will be scrupulous about identifying wrongdoing by a Trump Administration, whereas it will cover up that wrongdoing by a Clinton Administration.

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Conservative and Libertarian Legal Scholars Are More Published and Cited

In a fascinating article, James Phillips has focused on the productivity, citations, and credentials of scholars at the top sixteen law schools. His analysis suggests that conservatives and libertarians are more productive, better cited, and, with one important exception, better credentialed than other scholars. The powerful combination of these findings is thus consistent with the hypothesis that conservatives suffer discrimination in hiring, perhaps particularly in the lateral market when productivity and citation data are very visible. It is as if they are competing in a race with an extra weight on their backs.

I recommend reading the entire article, whose statistics cannot be full summarized nor independently evaluated here.  But on what appear to me to be the best specifications, the differences in productivity and citations are not small. Conservatives and libertarians write about three quarters of an article more per year than other professors, both liberals and those of unknown ideology. They garner 13 to 37 more citations than other professors, which is quite a lot given that the average for a year across faculties is only 41 citations. When measured against liberals alone, they are also more productive and more cited, although not by quite as much. They are also better credentialed in matters like membership on law reviews and grade honors in law schools and clerkships, although others are more likely to have a doctorate in another discipline.

Assuming this article is accurate, the normative implication that I draw is that in hiring schools should weigh more objective data, like productivity and citations counts more heavily and take less account of their faculty’s more subjective impression of scholarship.

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Libertarians Can Believe in Borders: Pat Lynch Responds to His Critics

At Bleeding Heart Libertarianism Chris Freiman has written a thoughtful reply to my post exploring why libertarianism might be consistent with closed borders.  David Henderson at our sister site, EconLib, has agreed with one of Freiman’s points.  I wanted to briefly respond to both of them.

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Libertarians Can Believe in Borders

Where to immigrate

A veritable avalanche of writings by libertarians I know and respect offer claims about libertarianism, immigration, and open borders. Apparently as a libertarian, I believe that countries should not limit entrance and exit across geographic boundaries. Alex Tabarrok says the argument is economic and “moral” because “law makers and heads of state,” and presumably misinformed citizens, prevent someone from immigrating in pursuit of work. According to Bryan Caplan, we could double our economic productivity with open borders and address concerns by limiting access to welfare until a threshold of tax payment is reached (a la Milton Friedman). Michael Huemer believes we are not entitled to limit access to valuable resources or to act on the aggregate preferences of citizens, since such policies may harm potential immigrants.

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Friday Roundup, November 1st

A Realist Who Preached Jeremiads: Will Hay in our feature essay this week reviews an expanded sixtieth anniversary edition of George Kennan's American Diplomacy. Hay writes: American Diplomacy originated in the Charles Walgren lectures Kennan gave at the University of Chicago in 1951 after he left government for the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. The published version became a standard text for courses in diplomatic history and international relations that went through several editions with new material added. Kennan expressed surprise to an audience at Grinnell College in 1984 that it remained in print. A new anniversary edition includes the…

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Drafting Libertarians

Thanks to Mike for his follow-up to my questions. Though enlightened, I am somewhat disappointed; I thought he was making a more radical argument, given his examples such as extending libertarian principles to foreigners wishing to enter this country (see the vigorous discussion on his original piece on immigration). I tried to base my observations solely on Mike’s own discussion, and not on opinions drawn from the vast libertarian conspiracy. I too affirm a “very moderate” libertarianism in one country, involving an “indirect utilitarianism.”

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Robert Nisbet on Libertarians and Conservatives

Over at Powerline, a recent post mentioned an essay on libertarians and conservatives by Robert Nisbet. Nisbet was an extremely throughtful conservative, who was respectful of libertarians (unlike Russel Kirk, whose essay “The Chirping Sectaries” Power Line also mentioned). I reread Nisbet’s piece on the Uneasy Cousins of conservatives and libertarians, written in 1979, and I have to say it holds up relatively well.

Nisbet focuses on both the agreements and disagreements between the two political theories. Among the agreements, he notes four:

1. The dislike of government intervention, especially national, centralized government.

2. The view that equality should be legal equality, not equality of result.

3. The belief in the necessity of freedom, and most notably, economic freedom (although conservatives are more prepared to endorse occasional infringements).

4. The dislike of war and especialy of war society such as during WWI and WWII.

The only one of these that seemed a bit off to me was the last. Nisbet supports his claim with the following:

And let us remember that beginning with the Spanish-American War, which the conservative McKinley opposed strongly, and coming down through each of the wars this century in which the United States became involved, the principal opposition to American entry came from those elements of the economy and social order which were generally identifiable as conservative-whether “middle western isolationist,” traditional Republican, central European ethnic, small business, or however we wish to designate such opposition. . . . [T]he solid and really formidable opposition against American entry [into the two world wars] came from those closely linked to business, church, local community, family, and traditional morality.

It may be so. But to my mind, this element of conservatism seems to be gone. Sadly. (Perhaps the most important remnant is Patrick Buchanan and his opposition to the two Iraqi wars.)

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